GlobalPlatform, the organization which standardizes the management of applications on secure chip technology, has launched a compliance program to standardize the trusted execution environment (TEE).
The certification of products to GlobalPlatform's TEE Specification Suite will promote confidence within the advancing mobile secure services landscape by establishing an agreed industry framework. This will lower the cost of progress by industry players such as application developers, hardware manufacturers and software developers by removing barriers caused by interoperability issues.
The TEE is a secure area that resides in the main processor of a smart phone (or any connected device) and ensures that sensitive data is stored, processed and protected in a trusted environment. The TEE's ability to offer safe execution of authorized security software, known as 'trusted applications', enables it to provide end-to-end security by enforcing protection, confidentiality, integrity and data access rights. Trusted applications include, for example, mobile financial services, content protection and enterprise services.
GlobalPlatform recognizes the important role the TEE plays in bridging the gap between the rich operating system (such as Android, Windows Phone and Symbian) and the secure element (SE). To bring standardization and clarity to this technical space, the industry body has released a number of specifications that can be downloaded without charge from www.globalplatform.org. These detail the hardware and software architectures behind the TEE, how to develop trusted applications, and the communication between applications running in a rich operating system and trusted applications residing in the TEE.
FIME and Galitt have received GlobalPlatform qualification for their TEE test tools which will evaluate and qualify the functional aspects of a TEE to GlobalPlatform's Specifications. The new test tools use an advanced test suite which has resulted from the strong commitment and expertise of GlobalPlatform members Gemalto, Texas Instrument, and STMicroelectronics.
"The TEE offers enhanced protection for content and applications on smart phones," explains Stephanie El Rhomri, GlobalPlatform TEE Compliance Work Group Chair and New Services Marketing Manager at FIME . "It has the ability to isolate secure applications and separate them from malicious malware inadvertently downloaded. As we see an ever-increasing number of secure mobile services coming to market, combined with growing risk posed by viruses and malware attacks, the TEE is fast becoming a vital component in any smart phone."
Gil Bernabeu, GlobalPlatform Technical Director, highlights that the combination of the GlobalPlatform Specifications with the compliance program offers real stability to the market. He adds: "This agreed framework will give application and software developers, and hardware manufacturers the confidence that a long-term, interoperable infrastructure is in place that will evolve with the needs of the market over time. It is a significant and welcomed step forward for the TEE players and mobile services ecosystem as a whole."
GlobalPlatform is also developing security certification specifications to allow independent parties to validate the security level of a TEE. Gil concludes: "The TEE has a pivotal role in protecting secure mobile content and we are eager to ensure we receive as many contributions to our TEE work as possible. We ask all parties interested in this area to engage in our work programs to advance the TEE ecosystem to meet future commercial and technical requirements."