FF-M Isolation

Organization

Arm Limited

Contact

tf-m@lists.trustedfirmware.org

This document analyzes the isolation rules of implementing FF-M 1.0 isolation and introduces the reference implementation in TF-M, which complies the rules by operating the hardware and software resources.

Note

Reference the document Glossary for terms and abbreviations.

Introduction

This chapter describes the definitions from FF-M and analyzes the possible implementation keypoints.

Isolation Levels

There are 3 isolation levels (1-3) defined in FF-M, the greater level number has more isolation boundaries.

The definition for Isolation Level 1:

  • L1.1 NPSE needs protection from nobody.

  • L1.2 SPE needs protection from NSPE.

The definition for Isolation Level 2:

  • L2.1 NPSE needs protection from nobody.

  • L2.2 Application Root of Trust (ARoT) needs protection from NSPE.

  • L2.3 PSA Root of Trust (PRoT) needs protection from NSPE and ARoT.

The definition for Isolation Level 3:

  • L3.1 NPSE needs protection from nobody.

  • L3.2 Secure Partition needs protection from NSPE and other Secure Partitions.

  • L3.3 PSA Root of Trust (RoT) domain needs protection from NSPE and all Secure Partitions.

Important

A Secure Partition RoT Service is a Root of Trust Service implemented within a Secure Partition. An Application RoT Service must be implemented as a Secure Partition RoT Service. But it is implementation-defined whether a PSA RoT Service is a Secure Partition RoT Service.

Here listed several possible PSA RoT Service implementation mechanisms:

  1. Implement them in Secure Partitions with respective boundaries.

  2. Implement them in Secure Partitions, but no boundaries between these Secure Partitions.

  3. Implement them in a customized way instead of Secure Partitions.

TF-M chooses the 2nd option to balance performance and complexity.

Isolation Rules

The essence of isolation is to protect the assets of one protection domain from being accessed from other domains. The isolation levels define where the isolation boundaries should be placed, the isolation rules define the strength of the isolation the boundaries should offer.

Note

In general, assets include not only ROM/RAM and peripherals. For the detail information about the memory assets and peripheral, please refer to Firmware Framework for M (FF-M).

Memory Asset Class

There are 3 memory asset classes defined in Firmware Framework for M (FF-M):

  • Code

  • Constant data

  • Private data

There are 6 isolation rules for protecting assets. Here lists the simplified description for the rules, check chapter 3.1.2 of FF-M 1.0 for the original description:

  • I1. Only Code is executable.

  • I2. Only private data is writable.

  • I3. If domain A needs protection from domain B, then Private data in domain A cannot be accessed by domain B.

  • I4. (Optional) If domain A needs protection from domain B, then Code and Constant data in domain A is not readable or executable by domain B.

  • I5. (Optional) Code in a domain is not executable by any other domain.

  • I6. (Optional) All assets in a domain are private to that domain and cannot be accessed by any other domain, with the following exception: The domain containing the SPM can only access Private data and Constant data assets of other domains when required to implement the PSA Firmware Framework API.

The first 3 rules from I1 to I3 defines the mandatory rules to comply the isolation, while I4 to I6 are optional rules to enhance the isolation boundaries.

Important

There is a table in the chapter 3.1.2 of FF-M 1.0 under I1 lists the asset types and allowed access method. Preventing executable access on constant data costs more hardware resources, so the requirement in the table about constant data can be regarded as a recommendation instead of a mandatory item under some hardware resource-constrained cases.

Hardware Infrastructure

To implement a secure system, the hardware security framework (TrustZone or multiple-core e.g.) and their auxiliary components (SAU e.g.) are required to ensure the isolation between SPE and NSPE. The requirements:

Important

The interface between secure and non-secure states needs to be fully enumerated and audited to prove the integrity of the secure state isolation.

Besides this SPE and NSPE isolation mechanism, the following analyzes the implementation rules to find out the hardware requirements for isolation inside SPE domains:

  • I1 and I2: The assets can be categorized into 3 Memory Asset Class, each type has the specific access rules.

  • I3: The private data access from the prevented domain needs to be blocked.

  • I4: All the assets access from the prevented domain needs to be blocked.

  • I5: Code execution from all other domains (even the domain not prevented from) needs to be blocked.

  • I6: All the assets access from all other domains (includes non-prevented domain) needs to be blocked, but, SPM is an exception, which can access the private data and constant data of the current domain.

The above items list the requirements for memory access, here are two more points:

  • If the memory device or the peripheral are shared between multiple hosts (Such as multiple CPU or DMA, etc), specific hardware protection units need to be available for validating accesses to that device or peripheral.

  • The MMIO range for Secure Partitions is not allowed to be overlapped, which means each partition should have exclusive memory-mapped region if they require a peripheral device. The memory-mapped region is regarded as the private data so access to this area needs to be validated.

Reference Implementation

This chapter describes the isolation implementation inside SPE by using the Armv8m architecture component - Memory Protection Unit (MPU). The MPU can isolate CPU execution and data access.

Note

Previous version M-profile architecture MPU setting is similar in concept but the difference in practical register formats, which is not described in this document.

The MPU protects memory assets by regions. Each region represents a memory range with specific access attributes.

Note

The maximum numbers of MPU regions are platform-specific.

The SPM is running under the privileged mode for handling access from services. The MPU region for SPM needs to be available all the time since SPM controls the MPU setting while scheduling.

Since partitions are scheduled by SPM, the MPU regions corresponding to the partitions can be configured dynamically while scheduling. Since there is only one running at a time and all others are deactivated, the SPM needs to set up necessary regions for each asset type in one partition only.

There is re-usable code like the C-Runtime and RoT Service API which are same across different partitions. TF-M creates a Secure Partition Runtime Library (SPRTL) as a specific library shared by the Secure Partition. Please refer to Secure Partition Runtime Library for more detail.

Note

Enable SPRTL makes it hard to comply with the rules I4, I5 and I6, duplicating the library code can be one solution but it is not “shared” library anymore.

As mentioned in the last chapter, MMIO needs extra MPU regions as private data.

MPU Region Access Permission

The following content would mention the memory access permission to represent the corresponded asset classes.

These access permissions are available on Armv8m MPU:

  • Privileged Read-Only (RO)

  • All RO

  • Privileged Read-Write (RW)

  • All RW

  • Execution Never (XN)

And one more Armv8.1M access permssion:

  • Privileged Execution Never (PXN)

The available regions type list:

Type

Attributes

Privilege Level

Asset

P_RO

RO

Privileged

PRoT Code

P_ROXN

RO + XN

Privileged

PRoT Constant Data

P_RWXN

RW + XN

Privileged

PRoT Private Data/Peripheral

A_RO

RO

Any privilege

Partition/SPRTL Code

A_ROXN

RO + XN

Any privilege

Partition/SPRTL Constant Data

A_RWXN

RW + XN

Any privilege

Partition/SPRTL Private Data/Peripheral

A_ROPXN

RO + PXN

Any privilege

Armv8.1M Partition/SPRTL Code

Example Image Layout

The secure firmware image contains components such as partitions, SPM and the shared code and data. Each component may have different class assets. There would be advantages if placing the assets from all components with the same access attributes into one same region:

  • The data relocating or clearing when booting can be done in one step instead of breaking into fragments.

  • Assets with statically assigned access attribute can share the same MPU region which saves regions.

Take the TF-M existing implementation image layout as an example:

 Level 1      Level 2             Level 3
 Boundaries   Boundaries          Boundaries
+------------+----------+------------------------------------+
|            |          |    PRoT SPM                Code    |
|            | PRoT     +------------------------------------+
|            | Code     |    PRoT Service            Code    |
|  Code      +----------+------------------------------------+
|  (ROM)     |          |    Partition 1             Code    |
|            |          +------------------------------------+
|            | ARoT     |    Partition N             Code    |
|            | Code     +------------------------------------+
|            |          |    SPRTL                   Code    |
+------------+----------+------------------------------------+
Check [4] for more details between Code and Constant Data.
+------------+----------+------------------------------------+
|            | PRoT     |    PRoT SPM       Constant Data    |
|            | Constant +------------------------------------+
|            | Data     |    PRoT Service   Constant Data    |
|  Constant  +----------+------------------------------------+
|   Data     | ARoT     |    Partition 1    Constant Data    |
|   (ROM)    | Constant +------------------------------------+
|            | Data     |    Partition N    Constant Data    |
|            |          +------------------------------------+
|            |          |    SPRTL          Constant Data    |
+------------+----------+------------------------------------+

+------------+----------+------------------------------------+
|            | PRoT     |    PRoT SPM        Private Data    |
|            | Private  +------------------------------------+
|            | Data     |    PRoT Service    Private Data    |
|  Private   +----------+------------------------------------+
|   Data     |          |    Partition 1     Private Data    |
|   (RAM)    | ARoT     +------------------------------------+
|            | Private  |    Partition N     Private Data    |
|            | Data     +------------------------------------+
|            |          |    SPRTL           Private Data    |
+------------+----------+------------------------------------+

Note

  1. Multiple binaries image implementation could also reference this layout if its hardware protection unit can cover the exact boundaries mentioned above.

  2. Private data includes both initialized and non-initialized (ZI) sections. Check chapter 3.1.1 of FF-M for the details.

  3. This diagram shows the boundaries but not orders. The order of regions inside one upper region can be adjusted freely.

  4. As described in the important of Memory Asset Class, the setting between Code and Constant Data can be skipped if the executable access method is not applied to constant data. In this case, the groups of Code and Constant Data can be combined or even mixed – but the boundary between PRoT and ARoT are still required under level higher than 1.

Example Region Numbers under Isolation Level 3

The following table lists the required regions while complying the rules for implementing isolation level 3. The level 1 and level 2 can be exported by simplifying the items in level 3 table.

Important

The table described below is trying to be shared between all supported platforms in Trusted Firmware - M. It is obvious that some platforms have special characteristics. In that case, the specific layout table for a particular platform can be totally redesigned but need to fulfil the isolation level requirements.

  • Care only the running partitions assets since deactivated partition does not need regions.

  • X indicates the existence of this region can’t comply with the rule.

  • An ATTR + n represent extra n regions are necessary.

  • Here assumes the rules with a greater number covers the requirements in the rules with less number.

Here lists the required regions while complying with the rules:

Region Purpose

I1 I2 I3

I4

I5

I6

PRoT SPM Code

A_RO

P_RO

P_RO

P_RO

PRoT Service Code

A_ROPXN

Active Partition Code

A_RO

A_ROPXN

SPRTL Code

X

X

X

PRoT SPM RO

A_ROXN

P_ROXN

P_ROXN

P_ROXN

PRoT Service RO

A_ROXN

Active Partition RO

A_ROXN

A_ROXN

SPRTL RO

X

X

X

PRoT SPM RW

P_RWXN

P_RWXN

P_RWXN

P_RWXN

PRoT Service RW

A_RWXN

Active Partition RW

A_RWXN

A_RWXN

A_RWXN

SPRTL RW [5]

A_RWXN + 1

X

X

X

Partition Peri

A_RWXN + n

A_RWXN + n

A_RWXN + n

A_RWXN + n

Total Numbers

[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

Note

  1. Total number = A_RO + A_ROXN + P_RWXN + A_RWXN + (1 + n)A_RWXN, while n equals the maximum peripheral numbers needed by one partition. This is the configuration chosen by the reference implementation.

  2. Total number = P_RO + P_ROXN + P_RWXN + A_RO + A_ROXN + (1 + n)A_RWXN, the minimal result is 6, and SPRTL can not be applied.

  3. Total number = P_RO + P_ROXN + P_RWXN + A_ROXN + (1 + n)A_RWXN + A_ROPXN, the minimal result is 6, SPRTL can not be applied, and PXN is required.

  4. Total number = P_RO + P_ROXN + P_RWXN + A_ROXN + (1 + n)A_RWXN + A_ROPXN, the minimal result is 6, SPRTL can not be applied, and PXN is required. To comply with this rule, the PSA RoT Service needs to be implemented as Secure Partitions.

  5. This data belongs to SPRTL RW but it is set as Read-Only and only SPM can update this region with the activate partition’s metadata for implementing functions with owner SP’s context, such as heap functions. This region can be skipped if there is no metadata required (such as no heap functionalities required).

The memory-mapped regions for peripherals have different memory access attributes in general, they are standalone regions in MPU even their attributes covers ‘A_RWXN’.

Important

The default memory map is not involved in this example, because it grants PSA RoT domain program (especially SPM) the ability to access the place not covered in an explicitly defined region. In a system lack of enough MPU regions, the default memory map can be applied, in this case, the whole image layout needs to be audited to find out if the uncovered region contains garbage or gadget data which could provide an attack.

Interfaces

The isolation implementation is based on the HAL framework. The SPM relies on the HAL API to perform the necessary isolation related operations.

The requirement the software need to do are these:

  • Create enough isolation protection at the early stage of system booting, just need to focus on the SPM domain.

  • Create an isolation domain between secure and non-secure before the jump to the non-secure world.

  • Create an isolation domain for each Secure Partition after the Secure Partition is loaded and before jumping to its entry point. The isolation domain should cover all the assets of the Secure Partition, include all its memory, interrupts, and peripherals.

  • Switch isolation domains when scheduling different Secure Partitions.

  • It is also a requirement that the platform needs to help to check if the caller of the PSA APIs is permitted to access some memory ranges.

The design document TF-M Hardware Abstraction Layer gives a detail design, include the platform initialization, isolation interfaces. Please refer to it for more detail.

Appendix


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