IT Week

 Phones gain coded security

Certicom offers a cross platform security kit for handset developers
Daniel Robinson, IT Week 16 Sep 2004

Cryptography firm Certicom has announced a cross-platform security toolkit
for future mobile phone handsets. The Certicom Security Architecture for
Mobility will provide a common programming interface for developers to
access functions such as encryption across various mobile chipsets and
operating systems, according to the firm. The move should speed development
of handsets with better security.

Certicom's Security Architecture for Mobility (CSA) builds on the company's
Security Builder Middleware, a hardware abstraction layer that is optimised
to work with a specific chipset or hardware platform. The first supported
hardware will be Intel's Wireless Trusted Platform, which consists of
security functions that are built into Intel's PXA270 series of XScale
mobile chips. CSA will support this from the fourth quarter of this year,
and support for other mobile platforms will follow.

"Pressure for greater security is coming from enterprise customers.
[Security] used to be seen as an add-on to IT systems, but lately it has
been regarded as something that has to be embedded from the beginning,"
commented Certicom's vice-president of marketing, Roy Pereira.

CSA has resulted from Certicom's collaboration with Intel on security for a
major handset vendor, Pereira said. He declined to name the vendor, for
commercial reasons. Handset vendors are focused on applications, not
cryptography, Certicom said, and its middleware layer lets them easily
build in cryptography support, shortening the development time and giving
handset makers a common interface for encryption functions no matter what
the underlying chipset is.

"They could move their code from a basic ARM chip to a PXA270 and get a
boost from the hardware support without having to rewrite," Pereira said.

CSA also includes a software cryptography module for platforms that do not
have on-chip encryption hardware. Other optional modules include Security
Builder IPSec, a library of VPN functions for resource-constrained devices;
Security Builder SSL for Secure Sockets Layer commun- ications; and
Security Builder PKI for managing digital certificates.

However, CSA offers more than just encryption, according to Pereira. It
supports the secure boot feature of Intel's Wireless Trusted Platform,
which checks the handset has not been tampered with before starting the
operating system. Certicom said it would support all major handset
platforms, including those with on-chip security hardware.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: [EMAIL PROTECTED]>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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