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New GlobalPlatform White Paper Explores the Value of the Trusted Execution Environment to Mobile Services Security

July 2015 by Marc Jacob

GlobalPlatform, the organization which standardizes the management of applications on secure chip technology, has published a free to download white paper, which introduces the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and examines its role in addressing an increasing number of security concerns within the expanding mobile services market.

The TEE is a secure area of the main processor in a smart phone (or any connected device) which ensures that sensitive data is stored, processed and protected in an isolated, trusted environment. Industry interest in the TEE is gaining momentum, as it addresses the needs of most applications by offering a higher level of security than a Rich OS, without the constraints associated with the secure element (SE).

The white paper, entitled: ‘The Trusted Execution Environment: Delivering Enhanced Security at a Lower Cost to the Mobile Market’ introduces the TEE and its general security characteristics, before progressing through the key security concerns and perspectives of various actors and markets. The paper illustrates particular use cases, offering an understanding of how a TEE lays to rest major concerns within those use cases. In particular, the TEE’s role in the following implementation examples is examined: mobile payments, enterprise (bring-your-own-device), content protection and government eID solutions.

“As mobile and consumer markets for connected devices mature and expand, an increasing number of security concerns demand attention,” explains Kevin Gillick, Executive Director of GlobalPlatform. “Yet while it’s in the interest of all actors in the mobile services value chain to protect applications on many levels, a balance has to be struck to ensure that security doesn’t compromise the end-user experience or the relative ‘openness’ of the device environment which offers commercial opportunities to so many stakeholders. This need to balance security and openness is a key challenge faced by the mobile services industry today.

“The TEE offers a solution which addresses many security concerns without imposing an undue burden on applications,” concludes Kevin. “This white paper will help audiences understand why this is the case and outlines its relevance for many use cases.”

GlobalPlatform is currently leading global TEE standardization efforts to ensure the development of a globally interoperable mobile ecosystem. To support this, the organization is launching a TEE Security Evaluation Secretariat to manage its TEE Certification Scheme. This initiative will work to accelerate the deployment of certified TEEs and to create an ecosystem where GlobalPlatform certification of TEE products is a prerequisite amongst service providers and handset manufacturers.

The new GlobalPlatform white paper, which can be downloaded from the GlobalPlatform website, will be of interest to stakeholders across the connected devices market, including service providers, software vendors, device manufacturers, platform providers and mobile network operators.

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