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September 30, 2014

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Leveraging a TEE For Enhanced Software-based Revenue Security

{This blog was originally published on the GlobalPlatform blog}

Ensuring revenue security can be quite a complex undertaking for global pay-TV operators. However, leveraging a variety of hardware security methods – including the use of a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) – can support the fundamental requirements of any security strategy: durability and renewability.

Durability is the ability to control access or visibility into intellectual property or sensitive information such as cryptographic keys or security algorithms. The TEE allows for this durability as well as the ability for powerful and sophisticated security techniques to be performed on a capable and flexible processor.

As with any cryptosystem, the security may become antiquated or even compromised at any time. The reality of these threats demands the capability of renewability, which is made possible by a securely downloadable software module. This allows the security clients to be rapidly updated in the field with constantly evolving security technology, and also allows the security vendor to rapidly respond to a potential breach. In most cases, the breach can be either mitigated or eliminated with an update to the software running in the TEE (i.e. the Trusted Application (TA)).

Such an approach offers operators many benefits. For example, each operator receives a customized TEE, which mitigates risk in the event of a breach or hack. If the same cryptosystem is shipped to all operators, one hack or breach can impact all devices. The TA can modify the keys, or algorithms or the key management protocol even slightly for each operator, enabling cryptographic separation or diversity for each operation.

However, TrustZone is not without challenges, including the logistics, the ecosystem and the cost. With such a vast ecosystem required to ensure robust revenue security, multiple parties are responsible for security – not just one vendor. No one company owns security from end-to-end. With so many different players, one simple error can impact the entire security infrastructure. In addition, there is no certification program to guarantee a level of robustness.

Even with these challenges in mind, it is worth exploring the role of the TEE as part of a robust revenue security strategy. In my session this week at GlobalPlatform's TEE Seminar, I will explore how software running in a TEE can facilitate a clear path to constantly upgrading the security of the device clients while maintaining the constant ability for rapid response in the event of a malicious breach. I hope to see you in Santa Clara!

Petr will be speaking at the GlobalPlatform Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) Seminar on Sept. 30.

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