Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Secure Computing (ICRI-SC)

The semiconductor manufacturer Intel and the Technische Universität (TU) Darmstadt have initiated the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Secure Computing (ICRI-SC). This institute is the first Intel collaborative research center for IT security outside the USA and is initially located at the Center for Advanced Security Research in Darmstadt (CASED).

In 2013, the University of Helsinki has joined the Institute. Prof. Asokan and team will focus on usable mobile security.

The institute is part of Intel’s new research strategy as of today: A worldwide network of academic research cooperations, the Intel Collaborative Research Institutes (ICRI). The ICRI program is based on the successful U.S.-based Intel Science and Technology Centers (ISTCs), and will bring together experts from academia and industry to help explore and invent in the next generation of technologies that could impact the lives of many in the future. “Forming a multidisciplinary community of Intel, faculty and graduate student researchers from around the world will lead to fundamental breakthroughs in some of the most difficult and vexing areas of computing technology.”, said Intel CTO Justin Rattner.

Intel Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Justin Rattner together with Steffen Saebisch, the State Secretary of the Hessian Ministry for Economics, Transport, Urban and Regional Development, and Dr. Manfred Effinger, Chancellor of TU Darmstadt, presented the new institute in the opening ceremony. The institute is headed by the institute’s director Prof. Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, who also holds the System Security chair at the TU Darmstadt, and by Dr. Matthias Schunter from Intel as its Chief Technologist.

Left to right : Prof Dr. Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, Prof. Johannes Buchmann, Prof. Michael Waidner, Intel CTO Justin Ratner, Intel V.P. Prof. Matrin Curley, Dr. Matthias Schunter

 ”Modern IT systems have to be equipped with the highest security possible. This is ever more important because modern information and communication technologies are permeating as interdisciplinary technologies all industrial sectors and are thus becoming the motors for economic and social developments”, says Steffen Saebisch. “This transfer to products and processes is very important to us. The Hessian Ministry of Economy therefore supports the institute’s transfer activities with EU structural funds amounting to a total of 180,000 Euro over the next 3 years“.

 “The Future IT technology will be one in which many hidden processors will provide users over a distributed operating system, a sort of “Super-Cloud”, with various services and business models: from the ’cloud of devices‘ up to car-to-x communication“, says the institute’s director Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi. „In Darmstadt Intel’s scientists and we will be looking for new ways to improve significantly the reliability of mobile devices, embedded systems and connected ecosystems“.

Intel and the Technische Universität Darmstadt will explore ways to dramatically advance the trustworthiness of mobile and embedded devices and ecosystems. For example, the joint research will seek ways to develop secure, car-to-device communications for added driver safety; new approaches to secure mobile commerce, and a better understanding of privacy and its various implementations. By grounding the research in the needs of future users, the institute will then research software and hardware to enable robust, available, survivable systems for those use cases.

 

 

Motivation

Cyber Physical Systems constitute various mobile and embedded devices like smartphones, RFIDs, and sensors that combine computational and physical aspects. They have become an integral part of our daily life. Computing platforms such as smartphones (and even sensors) undergo rapid and continuous development becoming progressively more sophisticated with regard to their computational, storage, and interface capabilities. However, the growing popularity and deployment of these systems together with the fact that they increasingly store and process security-critical and privacy-sensitive data makes them an attractive target for both software (e.g., viruses, Trojans) and hardware (e.g., side channel) attacks. As the diversity and power of connected computing devices grows, a single device (e.g., the smartphone) has the capability to manage various aspects of an individual’s life (personal and professional communication, financial transactions, media consumption, gaming etc.). The potential to span such a broad spectrum with a single powerful device poses significant risks due to the different threat profiles associated with various usages. It is critical to address the security capabilities of these smart devices so they can maintain the appropriate security posture at all times.

The majority of work today is focused on secure architectures for these new classes of devices and their components. This is important, but, with large numbers of devices engaged in complementary or joint activities in diverse security contexts, building a new generation of architectures is not enough. Each usage requires a deep understanding of the platform technologies necessary to provide the highest possible level of security. And seamless use of diverse devices for the same tasks will require a different level of inter-operability and support in the ecosystem.

Our Focus

 Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Secure Computing (ICRI-SC) will focus on “elevating the security assurance” of System on a Chip (SoC) platforms. Specifically, we place a strong emphasis on embedded and smart device (such as smartphones) segments of the SoC platform domain. We will explore several emerging usages (at sufficient depth) in order to understand the end-to-end frameworks for SoC security. The goal will be to map out threat profiles and generate security requirements that inform future SoC platform design. For each usage, we will analyze the corresponding threats and predominant vulnerabilities. Based on this analysis, we will propose new approaches to security, from architecture and cryptographic support to infrastructure features and policy frameworks. Our research areas reflect progression from analysis to the development of new technology approaches.

A summary of our Intel CRI-SC Institute and our research thrusts can be found in the Research pages.