Towards Trustworthy Systems with Open Standards and Trusted Computing

European Multilaterally Secure Computing Base

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Benefits

The benefits of a trustworthy platform as EMSCB are manifold since its design and development is based on the most advanced technologies in operating system, trusted computing and software engineering available today. Further, EMSCB has also many positive economical and political advantages. In the following we consider some of these beneficial aspects: 

Multilateral security: The platform shall allow the enforcement of local (e.g., end-user) and external (e.g., content provider) security resp. access policies. On the one hand the platform shall provide users better protection against malicious code (e.g., Trojan horses or viruses), but also against violations of personal security policies. On the other hand, it protects content providers against circumvention of their license agreements, of course, if the consumer has already accepted them. In contrast to the huge number of existing solutions, EMSCB trusted computing platform cannot be circumvented by software attacks. Since Trusted Computing hardware offers a reasonable degree of tamper-resistant, circumvention of security mechanisms is only possible by performing costly hardware analysis or complex hardware manipulations which is not feasible to be done by ordinary users.

Open architecture: Due to the open architecture and the reasonable complexity of security relevant components, this platform shall have a very high reliability. The reduced complexity also reduces the probability of failures during the development and maintenance process, which in turn increases the trustworthiness of the implementation. In addition to this, an evaluation according to security standards, e.g., the Common Criteria, seems to be possible. Additionally, the open architecture allows necessary updates, improvements, and adaptations of the platform to individual requirements without being dependent on a specific manufacturer.

Avoiding potential misuse of Trusted Computing technology: Critics of Trusted Computing, and particularly members of the open source community, are concerned about the potential dangers of this technology, since it may

  • limit end-user's control over the platform,
  • be misused for censorship,
  • restrict the rights of end-users,
  • violate the privacy, or
  • be deployed for different types espionage.

This inherent conflict between the interests and security requirements of end-users (protection of privacy and self-determination) and those of content and application providers can be solved by a multilateral trustworthy computing platform that guarantees a balance among interests of all involved parties. EMSCB compares in the sense of multilateral security the postulated security requirements of the user with the license agreements of software to be installed and prevents the installation in case of a conflict. Moreover, the openness of the proposed platform allows users to evaluate the design and the source code themselves obtaining assurance about the functionalities, e.g., that a system-wide censorship is not provided.

Efficient portability: Since security-critical components of the EMSCB only depend on the interface provided by the underlying µ-kernel, this platform allows a very efficient migration to additional devices, such as PDAs, smart phones and embedded systems. There are a variety of use cases in new applications of multimedia and information systems , e.g., in the automotive industry.

Future assurance: EMSCB architecture is compatible to existing operating systems. Future impact and importance of Trusted Computing-based operating systems is underpinned by the efforts of the existing large operating system monopoly. Through an alternative and open platform, security-critical applications may, to a reasonable degree, remain independent of operating system manufacturer ensuring the future usage capability of corresponding applications with regards to new demands.

 

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