The DSbD programme is producing technologies that have the potential to create a step-change in addressing security from the central hardware up across the software stack of digital systems.

The ISCF Digital Security by Design (DSbD) Software Ecosystem competition – detailed investigation (single SME projects) – aims to provide the seeds for enabling the software ecosystem that will be crucial for the adoption of DSbD technologies. It will be an opportunity for SME stakeholders from across the software development spectrum to explore and investigate requirements, dependencies, and a range of potential complexities associated with the adoption of the DSbD technologies.

The competition details are now available on the Innovation Funding Service competitions page with the competition itself expected to open for applications on Monday 30th November. Click here for our summary of the competition details.

This briefing webinar, commencing at 11:00 on Friday 27th November, aims to provide information on the scope and requirements of the competition and to help guide potentially interested applicants. Webinar agenda will be published shortly.

Further details on the competition

The competition details can be found at the Innovation Funding Service competitions page.

  • Up to £1.5M for single SME projects under the de minimis regulation
  • Total eligible costs £40k-£80k
  • Project duration up to 6 months
  • Open: 30th November 2020
  • Close: 13th January 2021

Scope: Detailed investigation of a problem framed around a system and software stack concept; to focus on the requirements, dependencies, and range of potential complexities associated with the adoption of the DSbD technologies. This detailed investigation could lead to a subsequent implementation, not part of this competition, that will benefit from the use of DSbD technologies.

The competition aligns with the general availability of DSbD’s Morello Platform Model.

Details and download links on Arm’s public (software) releases and associated documentation at: https://developer.arm.com/morello.

Together, the DSbD technologies enable fine-grained memory protection and software compartmentalisation on top of a memory-managed processor (e.g. processor that uses a Memory Management Unit). They offer an approach to containerise and protect access of data in digital systems with a potential to therefore greatly increase robustness and resilience against cyber-attacks. Applications must show how DSbD technologies will be incorporated in their detailed investigation work.

Project proposals must focus on a detailed investigation of a problem framed around a system and software stack concept which could lead to a subsequent implementation that would benefit from the use of DSbD technologies.

This competition is open to investigation of multiple approaches to applying DSbD security for fine-grained memory protection and/or software compartmentalisation

Conditioned on a full software stack technical approach, specific work focuses can include:

  • software frameworks
  • tooling
  • development environments
  • operating systems
  • language runtimes
  • libraries and ancillary support
  • middleware

This competition aligns with the general availability of DSbD’s Morello Platform Model. This platform model is a software-based, Fixed Virtual Platform (FVP) model, representation of the subsequent DSbD technology platform prototype  hardware-based platform. This platform uses an Arm 64-bit DSbD technology-enhanced processor that incorporates the concepts of the Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions (CHERI) protection model. CHERI comprises security features and safeguards that are built into the processor architecture so that the hardware system and associated software become more resilient and therefore more secure against a range of software vulnerabilities.

This FVP model implements a software programmer’s view of a computer and is run as an executable in a desktop-based development environment; it enables execution of full software stacks and provides a widely available virtual platform ahead of the delivery of the technology platform prototype hardware. The platform model will be made available for general access with evolving support software in terms of toolchain, libraries, kernel development and user space components. The model will initially be capable of building and running a nano (reduced headless) Android kernel and userspace examples as well as the FreeBSD-based CheriBSD operating system and applications provided by the University of Cambridge.

The Morello Platform Model FVP (Fixed Virtual Platform) is now available for download from the Arm Ecosystem FVPs website.

Further details on the Arm Morello Program are available here.