Secure your smaller devices with MARS

Date Published: August, 01, 2023

By Tom Brostrom, Chair of the MARS Work Group

With the number of active IoT devices set to reach approximately 29.4 billion by 2030, it is crucial for adequate security measures to be put in place in order to establish a trusted, digital ecosystem. Yet all too often, sufficient commercially available options are lacking. To overcome this challenge, the Measurement and Attestation Roots (MARS) Work Group has developed a specification that enables manufacturers to provide a strong line of defense with very little impact to cost.

MARS: For smaller devices and even smaller budgets

For small, embedded technologies such as IoT devices, most of the available security standards may be impractical. To meet the requirements of operators across a number of industries, the MARS specification has been developed to incorporate a physically isolated set of shielded locations and protection of device capabilities in order to fully support identification, as well as measurement storage and attestation. MARS is able to specify methods in which logic can be implemented directly into hardware, all while remaining isolated from its host microprocessor.

Protecting embedded technology

The isolated, lightweight pair of hardware roots of trust (RoT) included in MARS can be easily integrated into a number of device designs, including IoT, automotive vehicles, robotics, medical devices, and mobile phones. The specification can also play a crucial role in establishing the trustworthiness of smart home devices. Utilizing a MARS RoT can help measure and attest in much the same way as with a TPM, but without the need for a discrete chip or any special processor modes.

MARS can be implemented and attached to its host in a variety of ways, as appropriate for the type of construction required. However, MARS was specified to be small enough to be implemented as a state machine around a cryptographic accelerator and attached to an internal bus. As a result of the specification’s design, a manufacturer has greater choice of options when it comes to developing a security solution. Those looking to implement the specification have the flexibility to independently choose relevant TCG platform profile values and then implement protections for MARS capabilities and data most appropriate for their requirements.


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