New Arm Certification Aims to Secure IoT Devices

A three-tier certification regimen shows adherence to the Platform Security Architecture.



Arm, which designs processors used in devices from smart doorbells to supercomputers, is partnering with five laboratories and consulting firms to develop a certification for adherence to the Platform Security Architecture (PSA). The PSA is a framework and set of resources designed to help improve the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices starting with the processing chips themselves.

PSA Certified offers three levels of certification in an attempt to prove basic security principles have been embedded in IoT hardware.

"This will enable trust in individual devices, in their data, and in the deployment of these devices at scale in IoT services, as we drive towards a world of a trillion connected devices," said Paul Williamson, vice president and general manager of Arm's Emerging Businesses Group, in a statement announcing the certification.

Level 1 certification involves a questionnaire for the manufacturer seeking certification, with the precise contents of the form varying depending on whether the component is a chip, device, operating system, or something else. The questionnaire is based on the 10 security model goals of the PSA architecture and is used, along with a lab check at one of the PSA-certified lab partners, or ensure compliance.

According to Arm, a number of manufacturers have attained Level 1 certification. They include Cypress, Express Logic, Microchip, Nordic Semiconductor, Nuvoton, NXP, STMicroelectronics, and Silicon Labs. 

Levels 2 and 3 certification require lab tests against the PSA root of trust protection profile; Level 3 also includes additional tests involving side-channel attacks and other vulnerabilities. These levels are intended for CPU and chip vendors to prove that their devices can be trusted as the basis of secure systems. These tests will be provided by testing lab partners Brightsight, CAICT, Riscure, and UL, along with consultants Prove&Run.

For a growing number of consumers and businesses, IoT security is a critical component of personal and financial security. In the "Avast Smart Home Security Report 2019," released today, researchers note that more than 40% of homes worldwide — and 62% of homes in the US, have more than five connected smart devices.

"It only takes one weak device to let in a bad hacker, and once they are on the network, they can access other devices and the personal data they stream or store, including live videos and voice recordings," said Avast president Ondrej Vlcek, commenting on the report.

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Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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