Click here to close now.

SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Hovhannes Avoyan, Elizabeth White, Adrian Bridgwater

Related Topics: Microservices Journal, Wireless, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Security, SDN Journal

Microservices Journal: Article

Securing Mobile Networks with Trustworthy Systems

Public and private organizations should seek out vendors that prioritize continued innovation

In our increasingly connected world, the number of mobile phones will exceed the world's population by 2014. Users expect to be able to run diverse applications on these devices at work, home, and practically anywhere else. We assume secure access to any information we need, with an expectation of seamless mobility and a high-quality user experience.

Security is a primary concern, but at the same time users don't want security to get in the way of their experience. Users want to simply be able to find an application in an app store, and then download and use it without having to be concerned about whether it's a trusted application.

Today, the customer chooses a product based on a vendor's ability to fulfill the customer's need, the price point, and vendor attributes such as viability. The "trust" market transition introduces three other essential criteria: the vendor's trustworthiness and transparency, the product's trustworthiness and integrity, and the vendor's commitment to and understanding of security issues. Taken together, these criteria can help a company determine the most trustworthy system for its mobile network.

The Network Is Square One
Fortunately, it is possible to address the hidden risks of choosing a vendor and to reduce the known risks of operating a mobile infrastructure. This ideal - a "trustworthy system" - can be achieved through vendor inspection, delineation between assumed and verifiable trust and, ultimately, a network security infrastructure more advanced than the one in which we operate today.

Mobile device security begins with the network. Networks should be based on verifiably trustworthy network architectures built on secure software and hardware that are backed by prudent supply chain security practices. These elements enable an intelligent network to engage the service provider's access policies and challenge the trustworthiness of mobile devices attempting to access network resources. In turn, mobile device manufacturers and vendors should focus on building verifiable trustworthiness and transparency with regard to their processes and technologies to allow for the creation of secure mobile networks.

Trusted Environments Within Devices
Fortunately, there are many useful ways to ensure that mobile devices are trustworthy. One particularly effective approach is to build a trusted environment within the devices. This is accomplished by partitioning mobile phones and tablets in a logical and secure way, such that they become, in effect, multitenant devices. This enables:

  • The service provider to provide radio service without fear that the user will tinker with security elements within the device, potentially compromising the network's security.
  • The manufacturer to provide secure booting of the device with an initial signed image that can be upgraded over time.
  • The user to run third-party applications without fear of affecting the other device elements.

Industry collaboration and standardization initiatives will make this vision a reality. For instance, the GlobalPlatform organization is developing secure Trusted Execution Environment specifications for mobile devices. A verifiable root of trust is built sequentially from the time a user boots up the hardware (phone), through the loading of the operating system, to the activation of individual applications within this trusted environment.

GlobalPlatform has been working to get mobile device manufacturers moving in the same direction in terms of standardizing a single trusted architecture for mobile devices. The Trusted Computing Group, another standards organization, has been collaborating with GlobalPlatform and working to bring mobile device manufacturers into alignment along common standards of trustworthiness.

Standards for Success
The network's primary role in the context of mobile security and trustworthiness is in the access-control realm. In support of this role, organizations should ensure that their network infrastructures enforce security-policy compliance on all devices that attempt to gain access to the network. Network administrators should use best practices to authenticate, authorize, evaluate, and remediate wired, wireless, and remote users before they can gain access to the network and its resources.

By using protocols such as device posturing, organizations can classify devices that attempt to gain network access and understand who the user is and what policies should be enforced based on the information that is captured from the device and by the authentication of the user. In order to secure the corporate network, the network needs to understand the level of trustworthiness in mobile devices. The convergence of mobile platforms to a common trusted architecture will make the problem easier for network administrators. Once the network discovers and classifies devices, then it can immediately determine whether the device is compliant to a certain common standard.

Government organizations are helping drive common standards by asking vendors to support standards and move away from proprietary solutions. They are also identifying specific standards and certifications upon which they would like to see mobile devices manufactured. Given this push, there will eventually be a convergence to one standardized, secure and trustworthy ecosystem and architecture. At that point, government agencies and other institutions will be able to verify the trustworthiness of a particular device based on its certificates and then allow or deny access based on its assessment of the device's trustworthiness.

Virtualization's Role
Currently, efforts are being made to extend the concept of virtualization in servers to virtualization in mobile devices through hypervisors, providing a more flexible environment to implement a multiple stakeholder model. Cloud and other forms of virtualization provide extended storage, improve resiliency, increase efficiency, and reduce costs; but they also introduce additional security risks. Managing and mitigating these risks demands a new level of planning, user education, and security procedures to create a trustworthy system for securing mobile networks.

Looking Ahead
The importance of selecting a vendor that can ensure trust throughout the entire mobile system cannot be overstated. Taken together, trustworthy systems combine verifiably trustworthy hardware, software, firmware and, as appropriate, the resulting services built upon them, demonstrating in a provable manner the trust and risk management required for today's standards of security and reliability.

Trust is not guaranteed. It must be proven on a continuous basis. Public and private organizations should seek out vendors that prioritize continued innovation to ensure resiliency in customer networks through visibility and transparency while partnering with customers to prepare for any and all threats.

More Stories By Rafael Mantilla Montalvo

Dr. Rafael Mantilla Montalvo is a Principal Engineer at Cisco Systems. He holds a B. Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional and an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Ras...
SYS-CON Events announced today the DevOps Foundation Certification Course, being held June ?, 2015, in conjunction with DevOps Summit and 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps – the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will res...
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provide...
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Soha will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Soha delivers enterprise-grade application security, on any device, as agile as the cloud. This turnkey, cloud-based service enables customers to solve secure application access and delivery challenges that traditional or virtualized network solutions cannot solve because they are too expensive, inflexible and operational...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch ...
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable o...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will mee...
of cloud, colocation, managed services and disaster recovery solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. TierPoint, LLC, is a leading national provider of information technology and data center services, including cloud, colocation, disaster recovery and managed IT services, with corporate headquarters in St. Louis, MO. TierPoint was formed through the strategic combination of some of t...
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
Public Cloud IaaS started it's life in the developer and startup communities and has grown rapidly to a $20B+ industry, but it still pales in comparison to how much is spent worldwide on IT: $3.6 trillion. In fact, there are 8.6 million data centers worldwide, the reality is many small and medium sized business have server closets and colocation footprints filled with servers and storage gear. While on-premise environment virtualization may have peaked at 75%, the Public Cloud has lagged in ado...
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) ap...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure IaaS, today released its SDK for Ruby, written against the company's new RESTful API. The new SDK joins ProfitBricks' previously announced support for the popular multi-cloud open-source Fog project. This new Ruby SDK, which exposes advanced functionality to take advantage of ProfitBricks' simplicity and productivity, aligns with ProfitBricks' mission to provide a painless way to automate infrastructure in the cloud. Ruby is a genera...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GENBAND, a leading developer of real time communications software solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's WebRTC Summit, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The GENBAND team will be on hand to demonstrate their newest product, Kandy. Kandy is a communications Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that enables companies to seamlessly integrate more human communications into their Web and mobile applicatio...