Trusted computing: it's not just cyber security anymore

THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY – The ability to ensure accuracy in real-time life- and mission-critical computing is one of the most important aspects of embedded computing today. The rise of multicore processors, parallel processing, real-time networking, and precision timing means the hardware and software engineer has a lot more to worry about than cyber security to make sure computing results are correct. That's where trusted computing comes in.

Trusted computing: it's not just cyber security anymore
Trusted computing: it's not just cyber security anymore
THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY – The ability to ensure accuracy in real-time life- and mission-critical computing is one of the most important aspects of embedded computing today. The rise of multicore processors, parallel processing, real-time networking, and precision timing means the hardware and software engineer has a lot more to worry about than cyber security to make sure computing results are correct. That's where trusted computing comes in.

This term, as we see it, means that the computer consistently will behave in expected ways, and that computer hardware and software will enforce those behaviors. Because of the importance of the trusted computing discipline, Military & Aerospace Electronics, as of today, is changing the name of its Cyber Security enewsletter to Trusted Computing.

Why the change? The reason is there are many more aspects of modern, high-performance, complex embedded computing than cyber security issues. There's far more to go wrong in today's embedded computing than a cyber hack.

Timing can be compromised, which can bring down a tactical network, the compute chain in multicore parallel processing can get out of sync, an unanticipated computer bug can change results, software upgrades can go wrong, and many other factors can threaten the integrity of computers on which lives and missions depend. There are future errors we haven't even dreamed of, and we need to be ready for those.

Trusted computing involves a wider universe than cyber security, and we're trying to cover all the angles, from safety-critical computing, cyber defenses, anti-tamper, precision networking, and more.

The root of trust: a foundation for trusted computing

Certainly trusted computing also has a narrower meaning, and we're covering that, too. Many in the embedded computing industry understand trusted computing to involve loading hardware with a unique encryption key accessible to the rest of the system. This is crucially important, and our coverage will encompass this discipline, as well.

In short, we view trusted computing as involving any kind of hardware and software architecture, design, tool, algorithm, or anything else that will ensure the validity of computing results. Lives can depend on this, and that's why we take it so seriously.

Anyone in the computing industry supplying mission- and life-critical military systems, this is about you. If your company is involved in trusted computing in any, we want to hear from you. Please email news and product announcements to John Keller, chief editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics, at jkeller@pennwell.com.

We're planning a one-day technical conference on trusted computing sometime next spring, and we're looking for industry experts to present their views, their technologies, their products, their contracts, and their forecasts. You'll be hearing more on this in the next several weeks and months.

Trusted computing: it's not just cyber security anymore.

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