The Zephyr Project, an open source project at the Linux Foundation that builds a safe, secure and flexible real-time operating system (RTOS) for the Internet of Things (IoT) in space-constrained devices, announces continued momentum by marking critical milestones for security and product-ready maturity.
Earlier this year, the NCC Group, a global expert in cybersecurity and risk mitigation, notified the Zephyr Project of a number of security issues found as part of their independent research into the security posture of Zephyr. The research, which was driven by growing interest from their clients, found Zephyr to be a mature, and a highly active and growing project with increasing market share. The May 2020 report outlines the issues discovered in detail and acknowledges the proactive work of the Zephyr Project Security Committee to fix these issues and follow-up on recommendations of the report. Priority fixes have been backported into Zephyr’s Long Term Support (LTS) and a maintenance release published.
“The Zephyr Project brings together a community of experts to participate on all aspects of the solution, from the standards to adopt, policies and processes to follow, and methodologies for build, test, maintenance, distribution and incident response,” said Joel Stapleton, Zephyr Project Governing Board Chair and Technical Product Manager at Nordic Semiconductor. “Our aim is to make a solution that developers can trust for the lifecycle of their products. This third party research and our security team’s swift and proactive response to the vulnerabilities is the strength of open source and a testament to this community.”
The Zephyr community of more than 700 contributors recently launched the Zephyr 2.3.0 release. The 2.3.0 release includes integration with the Trusted Firmware M open source Trusted Execution Environment framework, which implements Arm’s Platform Security Architecture specification. Zephyr has long included support for Arm’s TrustZone hardware, including being able to target the secure side of the firmware, but by adding integration with the standard Trusted Firmware M project, it now also offers the option to combine TF-M and Zephyr to create a PSA-certified solution.
Product Makers Need Security
The Zephyr RTOS is unique as it is vendor-neutral, with a scope from multi-architecture board support packages, to cloud connectivity for IoT products. Several high-profile products have leveraged Zephyr including Intellinium Safety Shoes, ProGlove and HereO Core Box.
In fact, during this pandemic, Zephyr community members are doing their best to help find solutions to various challenges. For example, Adafruit has volunteered to make Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and other medical devices. The Phytec Distance Tracker, which features Nordic Semiconductor technology, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Ultra-wideband (UWB) and Zephyr RTOS, tracks distance measurement between two or more people. With this product, businesses will be able to help employees maintain and track the 6-feet distance between others.
As a sign of commitment to developers like these, the Zephyr Project created a form that will notify product makers, who are not currently members, of vulnerabilities that may impact their products during the embargo window. Zephyr Project members receive this information already.
A Growing IoT Ecosystem
Today, the Zephyr Project welcomes Laird Connectivity and teenage engineering to its growing IoT ecosystem. The new members join Adafruit, Antmicro, Eclipse Foundation, Foundries.io, Intel, Linaro, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP®, Oticon, SiFive, Synopsys, Texas Instruments and more to create an open hardware and software ecosystem using the Zephyr OS.
“Developers have many options when it comes to selecting an RTOS for embedded microcontrollers, but the Zephyr Project is one of the fastest growing open-source and broadly contributed RTOS projects of its kind,” said Jonathan Kaye, Senior Director, Product Management at Laird Connectivity. “Joining the Zephyr Project allows Laird Connectivity to deliver more design flexibility than ever across our wireless modules, IoT Devices and Gateways. Our customers can leverage community support, better device security, high performance in resource-light environments, and license-free use for commercial applications. And by using one shared platform, they can build a highly reusable code base that rapidly accelerates their IoT development with Laird Connectivity products.”
“teenage engineering is developing embedded products in a wide range of complexity: from single core Cortex-M0 to multicore and multiprocessor systems with totals of up to 5 different mcu’s from various vendors,” said David Eriksson Head of Hardware at teenage engineering. “Our goal is to build the perfect multi-chip system where we capture what each breed of processor does best and allow them to work together in harmony. With Zephyr, we can develop anywhere. We make sure that code can run on host as well as device, and that interconnectivity is platform agnostic allowing a mix of real hardware and desktop emulation. We prefer to develop with open tools, so Zephyr is really the only sane choice for an RTOS where it is possible to achieve true transparency on all layers of the stack. We are happy to become members of The Linux Foundation and the Zephyr Project and to take part in shaping and influencing the future of embedded systems.”
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