Pytilia were one of ten UK-wide winners of the 2021 Digital Security by Design (DSbD) Software Ecosystem competition. During the resulting project, Pytilia were able to successfully demonstrate that using DSbD technology for critical networking infrastructure is both relevant and feasible.
Their project was completed in collaboration with the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) based at Queen’s University Belfast and benefited from UKRI/DSbD funding. This funding for collaborative research and development projects enabled companies across the UK, like Pytilia, to begin developing a software ecosystem, encouraging serious adoption of Digital Security by Design Technologies ahead of hardware availability.
“It bodes well for the security of our digital world that Pytilia have been able to show that DSbD technologies are able to block software vulnerabilities from exploitation in highly complex, high-performance applications such as packet processing” – Prof. John Goodacre, Director DSbD, UK
Drawing on Pytilia’s experience in the enterprise IT space, their project looked at the elimination of a key performance vs security tradeoff currently found in low latency applications such as packet processing.
What is Packet Processing?
Packet Processing is a core networking concept that is widely used in firewalls, network monitoring, and storage back-up. Packets are received from the network and forwarded for classification, filtering or other processing.
What’s the problem?
Developers currently face a choice between prioritising performance or security:
Pytilia’s goal was to demonstrate that porting the DPDK to the DSbD environment delivers a “best of both” solution thanks to DSbD’s compartmentalisation thereby satisfying both performance & security requirements.
Using the DPDK (Data Plane Development Kit) library, which is used to accelerate packet processing workloads, Pytilia assessed the impact of CHERI (Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions) technology on the protocol stack. This included measuring the increase in performance by applying the CHERI memory model to improve performance using DSbD hardware-based capabilities instead of classic memory pointers requiring manual checks.
Pytilia’s project was completed ahead of hardware availability using the Fixed Virtualisation Platform (FVP). With the launch of the Technology Access Programme, ARM developed and produced Morello hardware is now available from dsbd.tech.
Looking forward, Pytilia see the DSbD programme as an opportunity to uniquely position the company and establish themselves as a trusted technical advisor alongside product development companies. They would love to see DSbD technologies gaining more widespread adoption leading to a more secure future for us all.
“We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in the DSbD programme and are pleased we were able to successfully showcase this example application of DSbD technologies.
We’d like to thank the teams in CSIT and DSbD for their contribution and are looking forward to building on this success to continue on the journey to a more secure future with DSbD” – Tim Silversides, Co-founder, Pytilia
Pytilia is a new, fast-growing software company based out of Belfast, Northern Ireland. They provide a full stack enterprise capability from UI/UX design through to OS kernel/driver developments.
Pytilia have an established pedigree in delivering mission critical capabilities for their customer base which spans the financial services/insure tech, healthcare and IT infrastructure domains.