As digitalization expands rapidly, entire societies are becoming ever more susceptible to attacks from both government and non-state actors. With the growing connectivity of computers and other devices, the number of invisible but devastating cyber-attacks is also growing at breathtaking speed.
The cyber space is increasingly becoming an asymmetrical battlefield, regarding both software and hardware. Current information technology (IT) has become very high-performance and consequently extremely complex and vulnerable. However, attacks do not always originate from the cyber space; often the covert intruder is part of the device right from the start.
HENSOLDT Cyber – a joint venture between HENSOLDT and cyber-security company Secure Elements GmbH – has devised an innovative solution for eliminating untrustworthy hardware. Rather than focusing only on software vulnerabilities, emphasis at HENSOLDT Cyber lies on an entirely secure IT foundation.
Nearly all companies rely on off-the-shelf hardware in order to keep costs low and to save in-house development time. If the manufacturing and supply chains have already been infiltrated with deliberately-planned backdoors, for instance a “kill switch” that can paralyse an entire IT system, finding the underlying cause can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
HENSOLDT Cyber focuses on the cyber-hardening of electronic components by using a secured in-house microprocessor and a software basis with guaranteed security properties.
Its answer to cyber threats is a novel and unique product that combines a secure base processor with a mathematically proven, correct, error-free operating system kernel, which yields a secure IT basis for highest security needs.
For HENSOLDT Cyber the answer thus lies in secure IT instead of IT security and a well-proven "Made in Germany” approach to product development.
Building on this, HENSOLDT Cyber develops a modular operating system. This allows for radically turning away from the traditional "business as usual" reaction model, where defence can never keep pace with attacks.
These solutions can be applied wherever sensitive data must not be manipulated or hacked. Among these are the areas of Industry 4.0, cyber defence, as well as the energy industry.
HENSOLDT Cyber implements an in-house microprocessor using the RISC-V instruction set architecture. This microprocessor is protected against the insertion of malicious hardware, such as kill switches, during the design and production process.
On the software side, HENSOLDT Cyber uses the seL4 operating system kernel. It has been mathematically proven that the implementation of seL4 is functionally correct and that its salient security features are guaranteed: strict isolation, availability, integrity, and confidentiality. The kernel is highly performant and hence can be used for real-time applications.
HENSOLDT Cyber's shareholders combine the experience of military-grade technology designers with the expertise of renowned scientists in cyber security, who have joined forces within Secure Elements GmbH, so as to develop a novel secure IT foundation.
In addition, HENSOLDT Cyber offers consulting services to customers who want to harden new systems or secure existing legacy systems. In cooperation with partners, additional security facets such as certificate management are covered. Of course, HENSOLDT has successfully applied this analysis to its own products for many years.