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Wind River Picks Up Star Lab to Advance Embedded Security for Mission Critical Systems

By Arti Loftus
January 21, 2020

M&A activity and consolidation in the technology industry, including the Industrial IoT sector early in this new year and new decade with another exciting acquisition announced by Wind River this week.

Securing mission critical systems is a forte of Wind River, including in the aerospace, automotive and defense sectors, where more and more endpoints are being added as part of the rise of autonomous systems which deliver profound benefits including efficiency, productivity enhancements, quality improvements, lower operational costs and more profitable business models.

That said, without increasingly tight security up and down the technology stack, any gains from more automation can be destroyed by cyberattacks, causing a heightened awareness at the highest levels of government and industry that physical and digital security cannot be an afterthought: security measures must be baked into every connected endpoint and system thoroughly and continually.

Wind River’s acquisition of Star Lab broadens the Wind River portfolio with software for Linux cybersecurity and anti-tamper, virtualization, and cyber resiliency applications. Star Lab, a leading provider of embedded cybersecurity products for aerospace and defense systems which increase the survivability of mission-critical systems operating in hostile threat environments, addresses a growing trend where Linux cybersecurity and anti-tamper capabilities are becoming requirements across industries such as aerospace, automotive, defense, and industrial.

“With today’s cyber threat landscape is rapidly evolving and Linux cybersecurity capabilities becoming a requirement across industries, I’m eager to broaden the role Wind River plays providing embedded security for the most mission-critical systems, infrastructure, and equipment in the world,” said Jim Douglas, president and CEO. “Wind River’s acquisition of Star Lab allows us to do exactly that, and we’re excited to make a significant impact in the world of embedded security.”

Star Lab is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Wind River. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

In their announcement, the companies explained that, historically, embedded devices have functioned in isolation, deployed to environments minimally connected to the outside world. With the emergence of ubiquitous connectivity paradigms such as IoT and remotely monitored/autonomously controlled industrial and transportation systems, today’s cyber threat landscape is rapidly evolving.

“Central to this evolution is the ease with which a focused and resourced adversary can acquire, and reverse engineer deployed embedded systems. In addition to modification or subversion of a single specific device, hands-on physical access also aids an attacker in discovery of remotely-triggerable software vulnerabilities,” the announcement continued.

“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,” Douglas also said. “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.”

“With advances in technology far outpacing corresponding advances in security, the Star Lab security philosophy is to assume compromise and design a system that prioritizes protectability, resiliency, and recoverability,” said Irby Thompson, CEO of Star Lab. “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. Becoming part of the Wind River family will not only strengthen our value and offerings to our current aerospace and defense clients, but also allow us to scale to new opportunities faster, as well as expand our reach into new vertical markets."

Star Lab’s products are founded on a secure-by-design engineering philosophy, leveraging design patterns that reduce attack surface, isolate critical functionality and contain or mitigate even successful attacks. Its products, which are conformant with NIST 800-53 technical controls for federal information systems and consistently pass independent verification/validation testing, include the following:       

  • Security Suite: The suite offers robust Linux cybersecurity and anti-tamper capabilities for operationally-deployed Linux systems and distributions.
  • Embedded Hypervisor: Designed specifically for use in open, hostile computing environments, the Xen-based hypervisor offers a secure open source virtualization solution for embedded mission systems.
  • Secure Boot: A measured-boot solution ensures that a device’s firmware and boot code is legitimate and has not been maliciously modified or manipulated.

According to VDC Research, Wind River has the leading market share in commercial embedded Linux, embedded hypervisors, and secure operating systems. The acquisition of Star Lab further extends Wind River’s leadership in these categories.


Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Special Correspondent

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