Big Blue brings security home

IBM has unveiled hardwired security architecture that brings mainframe-inspired data encryption to consumer products, medical devices, government applications and digital media devices.

Codenamed SecureBlue, the technology designs data encryption into the chip manufacturing process, turning devices like mobile phones, PDAs, digital televisions and military field devices into individual secure data centres.

Researchers from IBM Research’s Technology Collaboration Solutions will work directly with clients to customise, design and manufacture the semiconductor devices to their specifications. The security is applied to both the microprocessor and system software on each chip, making no two security implementations alike.

Because each customer design is unique, any knowledge that a potential hacker could gain from one design is not helpful in trying to hack another design.

IBM said SecureBlue provides security capabilities that have not been previously available in embedded processor products. Because it is based on secure hardware rather than software techniques, it provides protection for confidential data and additional defences against reverse-engineering and tampering.

“Security is the highest priority in the data centre and in a secure network, but it is only half the equation. To have a truly secure system, security must be addressed end to end, from the datacentre all the way to the end user,” said Charles Palmer, Manager Security and Privacy, IBM Research.

IBM said SecureBlue lays the groundwork for strong protection to be built into the processors in even low-cost, consumer electronic products, and can greatly improve security.