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New Microchip MCU Enables Secure Boot Protection from SPI Flash

eetimes.com, Mar. 26, 2020 – 

As growth in 5G expands, with new cellular infrastructure, networks and data centers supporting cloud computing, there is an ever growing need to keep operating systems secure and ensure they are not compromised. They are particularly vulnerable to rootkit malware, which loads before an operating system boots and can hide from ordinary anti-malware software – making it very difficult to detect. One way of defending against rootkits is with secure boot.

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. For operating systems booting from external SPI flash memory, Microchip Technology has introduced its latest cryptography-enabled microcontroller (MCU) to protect against malicious rootkit and bootkit malware, enabling secure boot with hardware root of trust protection that complies with NIST 800-193 guidelines.

The company's new CEC1712 MCU, its third generation device based on an Arm Cortex-M4, along with its Soteria-G2 custom firmware is designed to detect and stop malicious firmware prior to run time, allowing designers to quickly adopt and implement a secure boot. Soteria-G2 uses the CEC1712 immutable secure bootloader, implemented in Read-Only Memory (ROM), as the system root of trust.

In a briefing, Jeannette Wilson told us, "We're targeting anything that can boot from an SPI flash. The CEC1712 has significant hardware cryptography built into the device which can save a lot of code space, anything up to 15k of code. This enables much faster operation, so for example all verification can be done in less than 70ms."

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