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Not Afraid of Cyber Attacks? "You Will Be...You Will Be." -Yoda

Published July 24, 2017 by Jothy Rosenberg

All of our critical devices have a Jar Jar Binks processor in them.

Little common sense. Easy to manipulate. Unable to distinguish good from bad. These are Jar Jar Binks processors, and the cloners are making billions and billions more of these processors each year.

In fact, analysts say there will be 21 billion Internet of Things devices by 2020 — all with Jar Jar Binks processors. Think of what these clumsy characters will control: the grid, people’s connected homes, autonomous-driving cars and open-road trucks, the entire air-transportation infrastructure, medical devices, military systems (including weapons), and much, much more. Yoda’s right; we should all be afraid!

Just like the floppy-eared version, Jar Jar Binks processors are well-meaning but incredibly easy to trick. Cyberattackers are the modern-day Sith Lords, and they prey on bugs in software to trick the unsuspecting, simple processors into doing their evil bidding. Any piece of complex software contains thousands — yes, thousands — of bugs, and these bugs are not mysteries. We have organizations that classify and record them in the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) list. 705 CWEs that Sith Lords can exploit to bring systems to the dark side.

Being an easily-duped simpleton wasn’t Jar Jar Binks fault, and neither is it the fault of the processors in our devices.

They were born that way. Our processors inherit their architecture from a simpler time in a galaxy far far away that looks like London circa 1945 — the place and time von Neumann first defined the computer architecture we still use. Until two decades ago, we had not been discovered by the Sith Lords so we did not need to make our processors smart enough to know if they were doing the evil work of some Dark Lord or staying on the righteous path intended by the programmer. Instead, for decades the goal was to make processors smaller, cheaper, and faster — and we accomplished this with huge success. It was not a goal then to make them able to stop the Dark Side of The Force. It sure is now.

What we need in our critical devices — and quickly — are Obi-Wan Kenobi processors.

Processors that are much smarter, and know good instructions from bad, and refuse to ever do one single unintended instruction. This seems like an impossible dream because we can’t just kill off all of our Jar Jar Binks processors and replace them with Obi-Wan Kenobi processors. But what if we can envelop Jar Jar Binks with The Force to turn him into a Jedi Knight processor able to defend himself from the Dark Lords?

The Jedi Council has welcomed Dover Microsystems in to use its CoreGuard™ solution for just that. CoreGuard is two parts hardware and one part micropolicies. The hardware parts are like giving someone with The Force a light saber and training on how to use it. The micropolicies are the laws of The Force. You can almost hear Yoda chanting to Luke Skywalker during his training on Dagobah: “Don’t ever let memory be overwritten, don’t ever let data injected from outside be executed as instructions, and don’t ever let important data leak out of the system unprotected by encryption.” Shielded with its Micropolicy Laws of The Force, CoreGuard prevents cyber attacks from ever gaining a foothold by wrapping around the Jar Jar Binks processor to transform it to a Jedi Knight processor that knows good from bad, defends itself from the Dark Side of The Force, and never executes one bad instruction.

 

The weekly CEO Column features Dover Founder & CEO Jothy Rosenberg’s thoughts on product, industry, community, leadership, and more. Center stage, every Monday. Be sure to subscribe to the Doverlog to never miss a beat, and continue to check in right here on our site!

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