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TCG Announces Open Specification For Mobile Phone Security

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Trusted Computing Group Announces Open Specification For Mobile Phone Security

Mobile Trusted Module Specification to Enable an Industry-Based Approach to Securing Devices, Information and Transactions for Cell Phone Users  

The Trusted Computing Group's Mobile Phone Work Group, which has been working to create an industry-wide approach to securing data, transactions and content, for mobile phones, announced on 13th September 2006 a draft Mobile Trusted Module specification. This open and available specification will enable the development of stronger security, enhanced privacy and reduced risk of loss and theft for mobile phone users and providers of handsets and services.

“Attacks on mobile phones, including viruses, spyware and spam, and the loss of personal and financial information or the handset itself, clearly will increase as phones increasingly become repositories of critical information and transactions for users,” noted Iain Gillot, president and founder of iGR (formerly iGillot Research).  “By working together and establishing standards, the mobile industry can move more quickly and efficiently to embed security mechanisms into phones. More security at the platform level can only help the industry continue to offer the services, handset features and content that users want.”

Mobile Trusted Module Specification

The Mobile Trusted Module (MTM) Specification assumes the implementation of a mobile phone as a set of trusted engines, or places that manipulate data, within the device. Each engine can be trusted to report accurately its state so its trustworthiness can be established. The specification envisions that phones will include multiple trusted engines, each addressing specific functions including the device, cellular service, applications and user services.

Each engine will have access to Trusted Services, which measures code modules and stores measurements in the Mobile Trusted Module, a protected area of the phone. The MTM can be implemented in a number of ways, since the TCG specification defines functionality but not implementation. For example, the MTM could take the form of a discrete silicon chip or a system-on-a-chip implementation. The form factor will be determined by vendors and their customers.

The draft MTM Specification includes key attributes of the widely deployed Trusted Platform Module (TPM) specification, which has been deployed in chips shipped in tens of millions of PCs. For example, the specification provides for protection of sensitive information, immune against virtual or physical tampering.  These areas typically can store digital keys, certificates and passwords and support integrity checks of the device to measure its health and whether its state has changed.

 Implementation of the draft MTM specification is complimentary with existing mobile phone components, including the SIM , USIM and UICC cards, and with specifications from industry organizations such as 3GPP, Open Mobile Alliance, Open Mobile Terminal Platform, and the Mobile Industry Processor Interface Alliance, to ensure that the work of TCG is complementary and extends security benefits rather than reinventing them.

Specific applications for trusted mobile phones based on this draft TCG specification include:

  • Protecting user data and identity information, and device identity information
  • Protecting content that might be downloaded for patches, new applications or other use
  • Enabling mobile payment and mobile ticketing

“The member companies, which include handset makers, service providers, silicon makers and others, have worked closely to create an open specification that provides a high level of security and trust for the mobile phone and that can be widely deployed industry-wide,” said Janne Uusilehto, chairman of TCG's Mobile Phone Work Group and Nokia head of product security. “By working together, we combine the expertise of many and help facilitate more rapid deployment of security to protect the phone.”

Products based on the specifications are expected to start development soon.

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