simTPM: User-centric TPM for Mobile Devices

Chakraborty, Dhiman and Hanzlik, Lucjan and Bugiel, Sven
(2019) simTPM: User-centric TPM for Mobile Devices.
In: Usenix Security Symposium, Santa Clara, CA, USA.
Conference: USENIX-Security Usenix Security Symposium


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Trusted Platform Modules are valuable building blocks for security solutions and have also been recognized as beneficial for security on mobile platforms, like smartphones and tablets. However, strict space, cost, and power constraints of mobile devices prohibit an implementation as dedicated on-board chip and the incumbent implementations are software TPMs protected by Trusted Execution Environments. In this paper, we present simTPM, an alternative implementation of a mobile TPM based on the SIM card available in mobile platforms. We solve the technical challenge of implementing a TPM2.0 in the resource-constrained SIM card environment and integrate our simTPM into the secure boot chain of the ARM Trusted Firmware on a HiKey960 reference board. Most notably, we address the challenge of how a removable TPM can be bound to the host device’s root of trust for measurement. As such, our solution not only provides a mobile TPM that avoids additional hardware while using a dedicated, strongly protected environment, but also offers promising synergies with co-existing TEE-based TPMs. In particular, simTPM offers a user-centric trusted module. Using performance benchmarks, we show that our simTPM has competitive speed with a reported TEE-based TPM and a hardware-based TPM.


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