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Implement Java-programmable, secure MCU for IoT

Posted: 27 May 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Internet of Things  embedded systems  connectivity  microcontrollers  JavaCard 

Security is designed into the Javelin OS from the ground up, so developers are not burdened with the highly specialised and delicate task of designing-in security themselves. Strong application sandboxing ensures clear application-kernel separation, memory protection domains, restricted code execution on the system stack, and file system access protection. Javelin OS also features broad support for symmetric and asymmetric cryptography to allow developers to easily integrate strong cryptography to secure data, communications, authentication, and verification.

jNet's Javelin OS is based on JavaCard "Classic", which is the most secure, highest-volume Java VM shipped to date. It runs on billions of SIM cards, ePassports, and EMV cards. It is the most suitable core for an IP-connected Smart Object and ensures low-cost implementation, acceptable performance, and a clear path for security certification when needed. When running on a secure microcontroller, Javelin OS gives you payment card-level security, including bullet-proof data integrity and confidentiality, code integrity, self-tests, countermeasures, and attack detection.

Java versus C
Developing in Java is more productive and cheaper when compared with the generally acceptable alternative – native C programming (figure 1).
 • The Java Virtual Machine abstracts away the hardware and saves developers the need for driver development and other low-level interaction with the hardware.
 • Controller code is portable, so less money is spent on migrations to new hardware.
 • With many of the detailed interactions with the hardware delegated to Java operating environment, the higher-level coding requires dramatically less testing and debugging work.
 • Java development is supported by powerful development environments, such as Eclipse, that can be downloaded at no cost.
 • Out-of-the-box support for IP-connectivity, advanced crypto, and remote code updates automatically upgrades the capabilities of your system and opens the door to new opportunities available on the Internet of Things.

While some Java implementations might hamper performance, Javelin SC architecture is designed for a fine balance between performance and portability.

Figure 1: Paradigm shift of switching to Java development environment from traditional C.

Case study: Javelin OS on Infineon I/O Centric secure MCUs
Javelin OS has been ported to run on Infineon's SLE78 secure microcontroller family, which is geared towards applications that require strong security and data protection (figure 2). This 16bit, MCS 251 instruction set controller is equipped with 500KB of Solid Flash memory, which means no expensive masking is needed and post deployment logic upgrades are simple. It also equipped with rich I/O including USB 2.0, GPIO, IIC, SPI, and ISO 7816.

For simpler nodes/smart objects, a Java-enabled secure microcontroller can control the entire device securely and cost-effectively. For more complex or existing systems, the secure microcontroller can function along-side the main controller and provide secure storage and cryptographic services that are lacking on the main controller.

Figure 2: Secure, IP-addressable interconnected Infineon controllers with Java programmability.

Putting Javelin OS to work
With the Internet-connected Javelin OS, you can start developing right away. Simply start up a standard Eclipse IDE equipped with the jNet plug-in component. The plug-in supports a PCSC Virtual Card Acceptance Device (VCAD) Driver and a NET-Proxy whose job it is to make the "smart object" appear as if it were connected to the same machine – that is, as if it were a standard JavaCard inserted into a physical PCSC reader plugged into the same PC.

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