Compute Security Across Industries
From the beginning, the Arm ecosystem has been a pioneer in compute security. Arm actively works with our global ecosystem of partners to analyze and counter security threats through the development and implementation of a complete family of architecture security features. Our architectures enable integrated security across all computing platforms, from IoT connected devices to large screen mobile computing devices and cloud server infrastructure.
Security Threats and Countermeasures
We have grouped some common security threats and countermeasures into four key areas – defensive execution technologies, isolation technologies, common platform security services and standard security APIs – with links to Arm’s architecture security features on our Developer website.
Defensive Execution Technologies
Gaining access to data and flows exploiting undesirable side-effects of out-of-order execution and speculative execution in modern processors.
Stack-smashing attacks, such as jump- and return-oriented programming, are used to target imperfections in software, such as improper bounds-checking.
Memory Safety Violations
An attacker may attempt to manipulate software to use memory after it’s been freed or to access a memory object in it's boundary.
Isolation Between Secure Worlds
Stronger isolation between multiple Secure world trusted applications - TrustZone workloads.
Protecting Code and Data
Protecting sensitive code and algorithms from rich OS and workloads, all while avoiding the cost of separate security processors.
Protecting Mainstream Compute Workloads
Part of Arm's Confidential Compute Architecture, the Realm Management Extension (RME) brings the benefits of TrustZone to all workloads.
Meeting PSA Certified Standards
Specifications and guides that describe security requirements that a product design must implement in order to meet the requirements of PSA Certified.
Communication Across Security Boundaries
Standardized communication between different software images.
Open and Standard Device Firmware
Shared, portable and open firmware supporting a pre-rich-OS boot environment with support for secure and measured boot, firmware update and TrustZone.
Confidential Compute Software
Standard reference implementations of the Confidential Compute stack that can be formally proven – helping to reduce the number of different implementations that relying parties must trust.
Verification of Attestation
Standardizing verification of attestation and providing a uniform provisioning API for vendors to publish information on software updates.
Portable Platform Security APIs
Specification and OSS implementation of secure cryptography, storage and attestation APIs that are portable across a wide range of devices.
Language-Independent Security APIs
Implementation of platform and language independent security APIs.
The Need for Better Security
Security is becoming more complex and harder to understand. As global cybercrime costs are expected to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years (reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015), Arm recognizes the need for better security and has designed its architecture security features with the following in mind:
- Arm’s CPU and system architectures are pervasive and underpin the entire technology industry, helping to reduce fragmentation, lower costs and improve security.
- By incorporating security into the foundational layers of the architecture, Arm has enabled billions of secure experiences.
- Many of our security specifications are free to download on the Developer website and Arm system security architecture specifications are freely licensed for use, helping to remove all barriers to adoption.
- Through standardization and providing solutions at every level in the stack, we simplify the deployment and adoption of fundamental security, enabling the ecosystem to focus on innovation and differentiation.
- Arm has a program of continual investment in security; by tracking the latest releases you can be sure your products will keep pace with the latest defences.
Arm Architecture Security Features
Arm architecture security features fall into four categories: Defensive execution technologies, isolation technologies, common platform security services and standard security APIs.
|Defensive Execution||Isolation Technologies||Common Platform Security Services||Standard Security APIs|
|Arm security features||
|What are these used for?||Creating a robust processing environment that is resistant to increasingly sophisticated attacks. eg: Buffer overflows, ROP, JOP, Spectre, etc.||A spectrum of technologies to allow engineers to choose the optimal mechanism to implement a security boundary around their critical algorithms or entire workload to enhance a systems robustness and data protection.||Platform transparency, reduce fragmentation, simplify adoption of security technologies.||Software portability, so any software can run on any platform and use the best security services that each platform supports.|
|Purpose of architecture security features||
Benefits of Arm Architecture Security Features
To simplify the development of secure products deployed at scale, Arm works with PSA Certified and publishes architecture standards that span industries. The regular release of new Arm security technologies means devices can support the highest levels of security as standard. About 42% of technology decision makers* cite a lack of understanding or expertise as the biggest IoT security challenge, according to the PSA Certified Security Report 2021.
Arm’s architecture security features are created in collaboration with our partners, ensuring specifications are developed with the best security expertise in the industry.
Security is the greatest challenge to reaching computing’s full potential. Strong integrated security built into the CPU architecture and platform, ensures devices can trust one another and their data. This becomes even more critical as we shift to using AI and autonomous platforms.
About 52% of technology decision makers* consider the additional cost of security to be a top barrier to improving IoT security, according to the PSA Certified Security Report 2021. Arm’s freely available specifications and industry collaboration reduces the level of investment required by OEMs and partners to build secure products.
PSA Certified for Security Standards
PSA Certified was established by Arm and six other co-founders to address the security needs of the internet-of-things (IoT) sector. The IoT market has expanded quickly but lacks security standardization, meaning many IoT devices were vulnerable to attack. The PSA Certified scheme provides a framework and methodology for built-in security, enabling silicon manufacturers, system software providers ,and OEMs to develop right-sized security for different devices.
PSA Certified provides a path to certification, enabling vendors to prove they have met all PSA Certified security requirements. Many of the architectural features and frameworks described in the table above can be used to meet the requirements of PSA Certified and build more secure devices. To make it easy to meet PSA Certified requirements on Arm, we provide resources to help developers at every stage of their journey.
Confidential Compute: A New Model of Trust
Computing has become a distributed utility where computing sessions can be run on any platform that meets the required security policy. In this environment, the ability to trust this computing utility infrastructure is a crucial element in ensuring that people are confident about the security and privacy of their information. This computing infrastructure is a very attractive target for cybercriminals, intent on stealing our data and code.
The volume and range of sensitive data held on devices is also increasing. New techniques are required to protect this data, and the integrity of applications that process data, from vulnerabilities in privileged software, such as operating system kernels.
For these reasons, we see a growing interest in Confidential Computing, by which we mean the protection of data in use by performing computation within a hardware-backed secure environment. This shields code and data from observation and modification by privileged software and hardware agents. Today, the traditional model of computing places a huge amount of trust in the operating systems and hypervisors that the applications run on. Confidential Computing removes the assumption that the privileged software, responsible for running the computing infrastructure, needs to be able to see or manipulate the data of those running sessions in use.
Arm Confidential Compute Architecture
The Arm Confidential Compute Architecture (Arm CCA) introduces the concept of dynamically created “realms.” Realms provide additional execution environments to ordinary programs for the secure processing of confidential data. Realms are isolated from the existing Normal and Secure worlds that we have today in TrustZone. The security policy of a realm is configured using a small amount of trusted and attestable software. This software is inherently separated from the Normal-world operating system and hypervisor, and any Secure-world hypervisor and trusted OS.
The Arm Confidential Compute Architecture will be available with the Armv9-A CPU architecture and includes the Realm Management Extension (RME) and a number of supporting software specifications and reference implementations.
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