Computer security once meant annoying viruses on PCs. Then, the stakes increased. Hacking into business and government systems exposed personal and financial information to fraud, theft and embezzlement. Now though, the security of embedded systems—or, more accurately, the insecurity of embedded systems—poses a threat to very critical data.
Today, the world runs on data and every bit or byte should be considered a potential target of attack. At the same time, both software and hardware systems are becoming much more complex, connected and interdependent. And with complexity comes vulnerabilities. The billions or trillions of lines of code and the interrelated hardware modules, subsystems and partitions all crammed on tiny slices of silicon are a hacker’s delight.
Of course, hackers are not standing still. Reports of vulnerabilities in embedded systems go on and on: satellite communication systems, wireless base stations, laser printers in residences and businesses, the smart electrical grid, medical devices like defibrillators and many other systems are at risk. There has only been an increased need for security in multicore embedded systems-on-chips (SoCs) as the years have passed. Embedded devices like heart equipment, smartphones and automotive control units rely on multiple components including embedded SoCs to protect the control center.
First, let’s introduce these elements that must be present to help secure multicore SoCs in embedded applications. Second, the foundational layer of security for embedded processors, secure boot, is examined in greater detail because with secure boot the system is protected from “power on.” Without secure boot the system has a gap from “power on” to usage. With the ever changing nature of threats, security will always be a moving target.