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Protect Against Rootkit and Bootkit Malware

Microchip’s new cryptographic MCU, custom firmware and provisioning service are designed to enable platforms to detect and stop malicious firmware prior to run time.

Microchip’s Soteria-G2 custom firmware on its full-featured CEC1712 Arm® Cortex®-M4-based microcontroller provides secure boot with hardware root of trust protection in a pre-boot mode for those operating systems booting from external SPI flash memory. In addition, the CEC1712 provides key revocation and code rollback protection during operating life enabling infield security updates. Complying with NIST 800-193 guidelines, the CEC1712 protects, detects and recovers from corruption for total system platform firmware resiliency. The secure boot with hardware root of trust is critical in protecting the system against threats before they can load into the system and only allows the system to boot using software trusted by the manufacturer.

The Soteria-G2 firmware is designed to be used in conjunction with the CEC1712 to allow designers to speed adoption and implementation of a secure boot, by simplifying the code development and reducing risk. Soteria-G2 uses the CEC1712 immutable secure bootloader, implemented in Read-Only Memory (ROM), as the system root of trust.

“A particularly insidious form of malware is a rootkit, because it loads before an operating system boots and can hide from ordinary anti-malware software and is notoriously difficult to detect,” said Ian Harris, vice president of Microchip’s computing products group. “One way to defend against root kits is with secure boot. The CEC1712 and Soteria-G2 firmware is designed to protect against threats before they can be loaded."

The CEC1712 secure bootloader loads, decrypts and authenticates the firmware to run on the CEC1712 from the external SPI flash. The validated CEC1712 code subsequently authenticates the firmware stored in SPI flash for the first application processor. Up to two application processors are supported with two flash components supported for each. Pre-provisioning of customer-specific data is an option provided by Microchip or Arrow Electronics. Pre-provisioning is a secure manufacturing solution to help prevent overbuilding and counterfeiting. In addition to saving up to several months of development time, the solution significantly simplifies provisioning logistics, making it easy for customers to secure and manage devices without the overhead cost of third-party provisioning services or certificate authorities.

In addition to preventing malicious malware during pre-boot in 5G and data centre operating systems, Microchip’s CEC1712 and Soteria-G2 combination is a security enabler for connected autonomous vehicle operating systems, automotive Advanced Driver Assisted Systems (ADAS) and other systems that boot out of external SPI flash.