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Open-source security enables trust and frees the embedded industry from specific vendorspen-source security enables trust and frees the embedded industry from specific vendors
Security is becoming a central issue in embedded consumer electronics, especially in home entertainment and multimedia systems. Soon home entertainment systems, as well as televisions and media players will be connected to the internet, most set-top-boxes and the latest game consoles already are. As a result, the embedded industry requires higher levels of security to protect consumers and is turning to open-source-based security to control costs.

“Open-source gives organizations and end-users the freedom to choose what is right for them, independent of a specific vendor. Furthermore, the rapidly increasing number of connected smart devices poses new security challenges that can already be addressed by open-source security components,” says security expert, Michael Przybilski from Nixu Open.

Embedded systems, such as mobile phones or entertainment systems are gaining more and more functionality and are becoming increasingly complex. It is also becoming more and more expensive to implement this functionality in proprietary hardware and software and ensure security. As a result, vendors are turning towards open-source software.

As embedded systems become more homogeneous, they also become more interesting for developers, good and bad alike. For embedded system vendors (for example in the telecommunication, automotive, banking, home entertainment or medical industries) this means a need to protect critical assets, such as shared networks, access to content, or user data.

Open-source is now a viable option and offers more flexibility than proprietary software. By utilising mature, well-supported open-source components, embedded system developers can meet the demands of their customers for secure products.

“Open-source security enables trust in the system itself and does not require trust in its vendor. Open-source-based security enhances not only independence from vendors, but provides among other things also better usability, quality and scalability,” Michael Przybilski points out.

According to VDC Research, Embedded Software Engineering (TMESE) is a huge industry with an estimated total market of more than $25bn worldwide and a projected growth rate of 8 per cent in 2010. Gartner, a global business research leader, has estimated that by 2012, 80 per cent of all commercial software will include elements of open-source technology and that ignoring the trend will put companies at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Nixu Open is part of the open-source community and all its work is freely contributed as open-source. This ensures a continued scrutiny of the work and enables the continuous integration of new developments. Nixu Open is headed by Michael Przybilski, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Helsinki. Originally from Germany, he has experience and given lectures on Symbian security, and has also contributed to Maemo / MeeGo security projects, as well as EU research in the area of trust and security.

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