Wind River acquires Star Lab to improve its Linux security

The well-known embedded Linux company Wind River is beefing up its security as its devices face an increasingly networked world.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Once upon a time Wind River was best known as a leading embedded operating system (VxWorks) and Linux (Wind River Linux) company. It still is. But things have changed. Now its customers want their devices to work in the world of the Internet of Things (IoT) and that requires much better security. That's one reason why Wind River just acquired the Linux security company Star Lab

Star Lab brings its Titanium Security Suite to Wind River's table. It uses a threat model that assumes an attacker will gain root (admin) access to your system, but makes it harder for them to do your system any harm. It also offers a secure virtual machine (VM) hypervisor, Crucible. Star also has a secure boot program, which ensures that a device's firmware and boot code hasn't been maliciously modified or manipulated.

Wind River will be taking the ideas inherent in these to protect its own embedded operating system offerings. It realizes that while historically embedded devices have functioned in isolation, with the emergence of IoT and remotely monitored/autonomously controlled industrial and transportation systems, its systems need better protection. Hence, the acquisition. 

As Jim Douglas, Wind River's president and CEO, explained:

The Star Lab offering is a perfect complement and extension to the Wind River portfolio, and addresses a growing trend where Linux cybersecurity and anti-tamper capabilities are becoming a requirement across industries such as aerospace, automotive, defense, and industrial, Our customers want to create security-based differentiation in their product lines using a multi-layer security approach; by combining the security- and Linux-related strengths of both companies, we believe we will be able to deliver immediate increased value and a competitive advantage.

Irby Thompson, Star Lab's CEO, who will be staying on, added "Like Wind River, the Star Lab portfolio was launched with the sole focus of building products that are uncompromising in their ability to protect mission-critical systems." Star Lab will also continue its offerings to its current aerospace and defense clients.

This is a pairing which should help make Wind River a leader in the growing IoT business -- a market, I'm sorry to say, which has been sadly lacking in companies which put security first. 

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