Endpoint Security , Hardware / Chip-level Security

CHERI Backers Form Alliance to Promote Memory Safety Chip

Chipmaker Arm Is Not an Alliance Member
CHERI Backers Form Alliance to Promote Memory Safety Chip
CHERI backers hope a new alliance will result in industry adoption of the memory safety chip architecture. (Image: Shutterstock)

Developers of a computer hardware project for stopping memory-based cyberattacks will soon release standards in a bid to overcome commercial hurdles to its adoption.

See Also: OnDemand | Protecting Devices and Software from Next-Generation Cyberthreats

Designed by the researchers at the University of Cambridge with backing from the U.K. and U.S. governments, Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions - CHERI for short - gives "fine-grained memory protection and scalable software compartmentalization."

Earlier this month, the University of Cambridge - along with hardware security vendor Capabilities Limited, chipmaker Codasip, the FreeBSD Foundation, lowRISC and SCI Semiconductor - announced the formation of the CHERI Alliance to promote the technology.

"Our participation in the CHERI Alliance aligns perfectly with our mission to enhance system security and reliability and contribute to the growth of this vital technology," said Deb Goodkin, executive director of FreeBSD Foundation.

The creation of the alliance comes after John Goodacre, director of the U.K. government's Digital Security by Design initiative, said adopting the technology is a challenge, largely due to the cost of porting operating systems to the new architecture (see: UK Official Touts CHERI for Memory-Safe Computing).

The group of companies will be developing standardization and compliance guidance on CHERI to assist with its deployment.

CHERI seeks to prevent memory security vulnerabilities, which account for roughly 7 in 10 common vulnerabilities and exposures.

"What the alliance is doing is coordinating the businesses and adopters as a way of delivering value across the market," said Goodacre.

One company that's not a member of the alliance is Arm, the British semiconductor manufacturer that in 2022 printed hundreds of demonstration motherboards using the CHERI architecture.

"Arm has chosen not to participate in the CHERI Alliance at this time," a company spokesperson said, adding that the company will work with industry partners to incorporate CHERI into Arms products if the customers demand it.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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