Securing Software Intellectual Property on Commodity and Legacy Embedded Systems
Gora, Michael Arthur
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The proliferation of embedded systems into nearly every aspect of modern infrastructure and society has seen their deployment in such diverse roles as monitoring the power grid and processing commercial payments. Software intellectual property (SWIP) is a critical component of these increasingly complex systems and represents a significant investment to its developers. However, deeply immersed in their environment, embedded systems are difficult to secure. As a result, developers want to ensure that their SWIP is protected from being reverse engineered or stolen by unauthorized parties. Many techniques have been proposed to address the issue of SWIP protection for embedded systems. These range from secure memory components to complete shifts in processor architectures. While powerful, these approaches often require the development of systems from the ground up or the application of specialized and often expensive hardware components. As a result they are poorly suited to address the security concerns of legacy embedded systems or systems based on commodity components. This work explores the protection of SWIP on heavily constrained, legacy and commodity embedded systems. We accomplish this by evaluating a generic embedded system to identify the security concerns in the context of SWIP protection. The evaluation is applied to determine the limitations of a software only approach on a real world legacy embedded system that lacks any specialized security hardware features. We improve upon this system by developing a prototype system using only commodity components. Finally we propose a Portable Embedded Software Intellectual Property Security (PESIPS) system that can easily be deployed as a framework on both legacy and commodity systems.
- Masters Theses