SOTPM: Software One-Time Programmable Memory to Protect Shared Memory on ARM TrustZone

Dongwook Shim, Dong Hoon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In ARM TrustZone-based architecture, shared memory is one of the most useful schemes to enable isolated execution environments supported by TrustZone to communicate between environments. However, it is already known that shared memory is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks since mechanisms to check integrity or authenticate callers for the shared memory payload are not supported in TrustZone. While an encryption-based method that resolves this limitation does exist, there are some architectural limitations. Indeed, even with key protection countermeasures applied, there is a risk that encryption keys may be leaked, as they are placed in insecure user memory during communication. Moreover, countermeasures for key leakage cause system performance overhead. In this paper, we propose a lightweight and secure scheme for shared memory, called Software One-Time Programmable Memory (SOTPM). SOTPM is a software-implemented, one-time programmable shared memory. It is based on the idea that payload encryption in the shared memory layer is unnecessary because sensitive data is already encrypted in the application layer before being written to the shared memory. SOTPM is set to read-only after data is written into SOTPM due to the one-time programmable characteristic. Therefore, attackers are unable to manipulate content in SOTPM during communication. Since it is not necessary for SOTPM to encrypt the payload in order to prevent malicious payload manipulation, it is possible to remove the risk of key leakage posed in previous studies. Additionally, in contrast with the existing method, our method can dramatically reduce system performance overhead. We implemented our prototype on an open-source hardware board with an Armv8-A processor and performed a security analysis and performance evaluation. The results show that SOTPM provides a sufficient level of security and less than 1% performance overhead, implying that SOTPM is a reasonable solution for current commercial products.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • ARM TrustZone
  • Hardware
  • Kernel
  • Memory management
  • Monitoring
  • Payloads
  • Secure communication
  • Security
  • Shared memory
  • Software

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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