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Real-Time Secure Operating System

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CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE, INDIA: The need for a secure system is often associated with a government project. The project may be for Department of Defense (DoD), the National Security Agency (NSA) or some other agency providing information that is of a very sensitive nature. And when there was a need for an embedded product for one of these secure systems, the entire system would have to be evaluated for security.

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This evaluation of an entire system could be cost-prohibitive, so in many instances, the system would be allowed to run with other systems in what is referred to as system high mode. Basically this would push the responsibility of security and information assurance off to other systems or it would be implemented via physical protection (e.g. a soldier would stand guard with an M-16 to keep the bad guys out).

This is now starting to become cost-prohibitive due to the need for the guard as well as the need for all users to obtain security clearances in order to use the product. One such example exists within the Land Warrior program. The first systems shipped will run system high and as a result an entire brigade will have to obtain a DoD secret clearance to work with the equipment. This is not the direction DoD wishes to go forward with.

In addition to the U.S. Government agencies, private sector companies will be forced to look into their systems and products that may be part of the country's critical infrastructure. This includes Internet backbone, financial institutions, power companies, etc. The recent virus attacks also show the need for secure systems that cannot be "hacked". The costs of such penetrations are in the 100s of millions if not billions of dollars. Since the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, it will not be long before regulations are put in place to ensure that systems are secure and that companies will have to look at the level of security in their embedded products in order to ensure they do not provide a means of penetration.

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