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SKPP: Separation Kernel Protection ProfileU.S. National Security Agency security specification for separation kernels

The SKPP (Separation Kernel Protection Profile) is also known as "U.S. Government Protection Profile for Separation Kernels in Environments Requiring High Robustness."

The SKPP was written within the framework established by the Common Criteria. SKPP guidelines provide for a systematic assessment of COTS separation kernels under the oversight of the Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS) in the United States.

The SKPP has stringent requirements for high-assurance separation kernels. By their nature, most COTS avionics partitioning kernels would meet the basic SKPP partitioning requirement. However, a COTS kernel designed before the advent of the SKPP would lack certain architectural characteristics, making the implementation of SKPP security requirements such as information-flow policy enforcement quite challenging.

Although the SKPP contains functional requirements unmet by any pre-existing separtion kernel, the SKPP does admit a degenerate separation-kernel model that some pre-existing separation kernels might be able to attain if the appropriate modifications were undertaken.

The SKPP prescribes many measures aimed at increasing security. The SKPP mandates that the kernel's functionality be simplified and limited to separating resources to prevent a subjects in one partition from interacting with subjects in other partitions.

Due to the lack of a runtime user-administration interface in embedded systems, the SKPP acknowledges that additional measures are needed to maintain high assurance. The SKPP requires static runtime configuration in most scenarios.

SKPP high-assurance measures include implementation of "the principle of least privilege" so that entities in a system have only as much access to system resources as necesssary for their intended functions. The SKPP also requires that audit records be generated.

SKPP evaluation requires the existence of certain supporting artifacts. Moreover, SKPP mandates that formal methods be used to demonstrate the correspondence between security policy models and the functional specifications in the kernel.

LynxSecure embedded hypervisor and separation kernel

The LynxSecure separation kernel and embedded hypervisor has been built from the ground up to satisfy the SKPP and meet the high-assurance requirements of the MILS architecture. LynxSecure has been designed to be cerifiable to Common Criteria EAL-7. Learn more about LynxSecure or download a security white paper.

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Security white papers
Separation Kernels Enable Rapid Development of Trustworthy Systems
By using separation kernel technology and a security abstraction design approach, military system developers can use off-the-shelf components and tools to rapidly build and maintain high security systems. (March 2014)
Coming Together of Safety and (Cyber) Security Changes Demands in RTOS Market
Separation kernels and secure hypervisors will be evermore in demand as safety and certification will be required in more and more applications. Governments are already working on infrastructures deploying this type of technology. (October 2012)
Building in RTOS Support for Safety- & Security-Critical Systems
LynuxWorks explains the differences between safety-critical and security-critical applications and how to meet their demanding requirements with the LynxOS-178 RTOS and the LynxSecure hypervisor. (EE Times Design, August 2011)
Enhancing Application Performance on Multicore Systems
Tips on optimizing a multicore real-time system, including virtualization, avoiding synchronization and concurrency while maximizing application parallelism. (Military Embedded Systems, February 2011)
Hardware Virtualization puts a new spin on Secure Systems
Real-time determinism and military security don't have to be separate realities. A combination of a secure separation kernel and an embedded hypervisor enables whole new levels of system security. (COTS Journal, October 2010)
Using a Separation Kernel to add Military-Grade Security to Legacy Systems
A challenge for the software designer is how to integrate modern military-grade software programs into legacy software designed long before security standards were predominant in system requirements. (VME Critical Systems, Summer 2010)
Virtualization: Keeping Embedded Software safe and Secure in an Unsafe World
A new, secure methodology is needed to separate systems of different security levels which run on shared resources—without compromising the performance of legacy systems. (EE Times, June 2010)
Secure Virtualization Combines Traditional Desktop OSs and Embedded RTOSes in Military Embedded Systems
Advances in software and hardware technologies now make it feasible to use both embedded and desktop operating systems in a secure military system. (Military Embedded Systems, May 2010)
DO-178B Provides Certification Safety net
Developers of commercial avionics software must demonstrate compliance with DO-178 guidelines. The FAA has issued additional guidance for so-called DO-178B Reusable Software Components (RSCs as defined in AC20-148), which allow for reuse of certifications. (COTS Journal, November 2009)
Designing Safety-critical Avionics Software Using open Standards
Safety-critical avionics systems have continually grown more complex and software-intensive. Regulatory authorities and avionics manufacturers have responded with guidance such as DO-178B and RSC to ensure that software performs safely, with controlled development cost. (Boards and Solutions, September 2009)
Two Different Realms: RTOS Support for Safety-critical vs. Security-critical Systems
Safety- and security-critical system functions are evolving simultaneously, with different yet similar requirements. Modern RTOSes are stepping up to meet these needs. (VME and Critical Systems, June 2009)
Virtualization Makes Better use of Open-source OSes and apps
With the introduction of the embedded hypervisor, embedded systems can avoid certain performance or licensing issues inherent to open-source OSes and applications. (EE Times, March 23, 2009)
Secure Virtualization Technology can Extend the life of Legacy Systems
By combining the concept of virtualization and security, one can consolidate multiple legacy systems running on heterogeneous operating systems onto a single host system with high-assurance security. (Military Embedded Systems, January/February 2009)
Virtual Machines: Intel's CPU Extensions Transform Virtualization
Virtualization has traditionally presented its share of design challenges in information-assurance-based systems. But now, Intel's VT-x and VT-d CPU extensions are changing the game and showing potential to become the de facto path to virtualization. (Military Embedded Systems, January 2009)
Separation Kernel for a Secure Real-time Operating System
The technical foundation adopted for the so-called MILS architecture is a separation kernel like LynxSecure, which permits multiple functions to be realised on a common set of physical resources without unwanted mutual interference. (Boards and Solutions Magazine, February 2008)
Advances in Virtualization aid Information Assurance
Advances in the newest Intel® processors are making virtualization much easier to implement in security applications than ever before. (Embedded Computing Design, January 2008)
Protecting our most Vital Systems
Some significant defence programmes are already committed to a new approach to high-threat, high-asset-value systems. Rance DeLong explains MILS. (Components in Electronics, April 2007)
Perspectives: Security and the Separation Kernel
Today's avionics systems are designed to support more than one application, using a partitioned operating system and memory management units to ensure applications have adequate separation. (Avionics Magazine, April 2007)
MILS: An Architecture for Security, Safety, and Real Time
The unrelenting growth and integration of embedded controls, information processing, and communications has created a need for systems that provide robust protection for resources and services in the face of serious threats. (Embedded Technology Magazine, November 2006)
Partitioning Operating Systems Versus Process-based Operating Systems
Partitioning operating systems are the latest buzz, while processes, by contrast, have been around for over 30 years. Both provide memory protection, however, the intent behind them is very different.
DO-178B and the Common Criteria: Future Security Levels
Although there are similarities between the airborne safety-critical requirements in RTCA/DO-178B and the Common Criteria, ISO 14508, compliance with the higher levels of security in the Common Criteria demands meeting additional security requirements. (COTS Journal, April 2006)
Reusing Safety-Critical Software Components
Safety-critical systems often operate together as a single "system-of-systems," making it important that they meet the most stringent and rigorous requirements for safety-criticality. The failure of one module in a system could create other failures or vulnerabilities, or worse yet, failure of the system as a whole. (COTS Journal, August 2005)
Using the Microprocessor MMU for Software Protection in Real-Time Systems
With minimal impact to overall system performance, user tasks and the kernel can be protected from accidental corruption by using multiple protected address spaces.
Improving code Migration and Reuse
The unrelenting growth and integration of embedded controls, information processing, and communications has created a need for systems that provide robust protection for resources and services in the face of serious threats. (Embedded Computing Design, August 2006)
FCS Program Rolls Forward in Formation
A wireless data network, with advanced communications and technologies, links soldiers with 18 new, lightweight manned and unmanned ground vehicles, unmanned aircraft, sensors and weapons—and it's all in one program. (COTS Journal, June 2005)
Secure Operating Systems for Deeply Embedded Devices
As we add more intelligence to our embedded devices, we find that they are becoming increasingly integrated into our information technology infrastructure. Though system security is not a new concept, security-in-depth is a new paradigm developers are now starting to address. (RTC Magazine, September 2004)
LynxSecure Separation Kernel and Embedded Hypervisor LynxOS-SE Embedded RTOS Luminosity Eclipse-based IDE
LynxOS Embedded RTOS RTOS: LynxOS-178 for software certification

 

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