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Safe Computing with Zymbit’s D35

Safe Computing with Zymbit’s D35

2023-04-06 13:13:23

Each few months, I attempt to take a look at a lot of new Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4-based initiatives, and at this level I’ve checked out over 100 boards that use the CM4 to fill some want—common computing, industrial controls, media playback, and even clustered computing!

This month, among other projects, I spent a little bit of time with Zymbit’s Secure Edge Node D35:

Zymbit Secure Edge Node D35 SATA side view

It is in-built the identical type issue as a 3.5″ exhausting drive, however the guts are totally completely different. Due to the shape issue, it may be put in in a drive bay in one other pc, or it will probably function standalone or on a DIN rail mount.

It makes use of the eMMC storage on a CM4 as its major built-in storage, but in addition has an inner M.2 NVMe SSD slot. It’s powered both by way of PoE, SATA, or a 12v barrel plug.

Moreover the huge heatsink and the I/O ports, nothing on the outside betrays the aim of this little black field.

Zymbit Secure Edge Node D35 Port Side

Observe: Most of my testing was carried out on an alpha model of the unit. The manufacturing unit differs barely in look, and Zymbit despatched me one for testing, but it surely did not arrive in time for this weblog publish. I’ll follow-up sooner or later as I’m going extra in-depth on physically-secure computing!

It is provided that you are taking one aside that you simply begin to glimpse all the safety built-in within the system:

Zymbit Secure Edge Node cover removed - tamper switches and battery

Moreover exposing the ‘person’ aspect of the board with it is built-in M.2 NVMe slot, for those who look intently you will see 4 pressure-sensitive tamper switches, a header for an additional exterior perimeter tamper circuit, a SIM tray, and a coin cell battery.

Zymbit Secure Compute Node D35 - internals with SCM Raspberry Pi CM4

As well as, for those who take away that board and flip it over, you will discover a ‘sandwich-style’ Compute Module 4, encapsulated onto one other board. This ‘Zymbit {hardware} safety supervisor’ board consists of extra {hardware} security measures: {hardware} wallets, exterior key storage, a {hardware} cryptographic engine, and a safe boot answer (requiring Zymbit’s customized Pi firmware).

Here is the bottom of the ‘Safe Compute Module’ (after removing from the motherboard pictured above):

Backside of Zymbit Secure Compute Module

Observe that these footage had been taken with an early alpha model of the Safe Edge Node—there are minor variations within the manufacturing model.

If this Safe Edge Node had been set to ‘manufacturing’ mode, any of the teardown actions I carried out would’ve resulted in a paperweight.

Actually, the documentation has tons of warnings about this:


In case you are utilizing the Perimeter Detect options, then the sequence wherein you arm and disarm this function is essential. Be sure you fastidiously observe the method steps under.

And digging into the docs, you will discover there are a number of ‘tamper’ occasions which you’ll react to, together with:

See Also

  • Bodily tamper (two channels – removing of canopy or breaking the additional tamper circuit)
  • Low temperature threshold
  • Excessive temperature threshold
  • Low battery voltage threshold
  • Supervised boot failure

As well as, there is a built-in accelerometer that can be utilized alongside different tamper prevention strategies for those who so select, to detect if the machine was picked up, or was topic to shock assaults. There’s a whole API to work together with the bodily security measures.

Zymbit perimeter detect Python script

In case you activate any of the tampers, and the machine is about to manufacturing mode, it’s going to brick itself instantly. ‘Disarming’ is the one method to make {hardware} modifications sooner or later.

This all begs the query: who is that this for?

Properly, you actually should belief Zymbit, since they’re the only supplier of this {hardware}, and so they additionally management the {hardware} encryption and firmware on the machine (outdoors of any cryptographic keys you generate on the machine, or any gadgets you add to the Supervised Boot manifest.

Assuming you do, if it is advisable to deploy a pc with any delicate information right into a ‘low-trust’ atmosphere, this pc can be a super answer. Such is the case for a lot of ‘IoT’ or ‘Edge’ deployments, and even one thing so simple as a customized merchandising machine deployed right into a public area! Try this 2018 AWS re:Invent presentation with Phil Strong for extra background.

The achilles heel—which Zymbit can do nothing about—is the software program you deploy to this factor. In case you deploy insecure software program that shops safe credentials in reminiscence, or exposes information from the now-decrypted filesystem whereas it is operating, effectively… it is nonetheless sport over.

So whereas Zymbit’s Safe Edge Node can actually make it easier to confirm your {hardware} and boot course of is safe, you continue to must carry out your individual safety hardening on the software program you deploy.

Try my overview of the Safe Edge Node, together with many different new Compute Module 4-based merchandise, in my newest video:

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