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CriticalBlue Ltd.
IndustryIT, Cybersecurity
FounderDavid Stewart
Richard Taylor
Ben Hounsell
Key people
David Stewart
Richard Taylor
Lucio Lanza[1]
(Board member)
Kathryn Kranen[2]
(Board member)
Dynamic Analysis Tools
Profiling Tools
Verification Tools
ServicesAPI Security
Application Security
Software Optimization
Performance Tuning
Performance Prediction
Multicore Programming
Number of employees
25 (2016)

CriticalBlue is a Scottish software company based in Edinburgh that is primarily active in two areas of technology: anti-botnet & automated threat[3] prevention solutions for mobile businesses, and software optimization tools and services for Android and Linux platforms.


In 2001, David Stewart, Richard Taylor and Ben Hounsell founded the software company CriticalBlue in Edinburgh, Scotland.[4][5] The company won a Smart Scotland Award in 2002 for "Electronic design automation tools for improved design of demanding multimedia applications."[6] CriticalBlue received $2 million in seed funding and assembled a core team in 2003.[7][8][9]

In May 2008, CriticalBlue joined the Multicore Association, where CEO David Stewart would eventually co-chair the Multicore Programming Practices workgroup in 2009.[10][11] The company received $4 million funding in September 2008 from European, Silicon Valley, and Japanese venture capitalists and corporate investors, and started a close collaboration with Toshiba Corporation.[12][13]

During 2010, CriticalBlue extended Prism product support for MIPS, Cavium, and Freescale.[14][15][16] In 2011, the company added support for TI C66x DSPs and second generation Intel Core processors.[17][18] The company expanded the range of supported Renesas platforms in 2012.[19]

In 2013, CriticalBlue refocused on mobile Android and embedded Linux platforms.[20]

In the subsequent two years, CriticalBlue continued to penetrate into the mobile software optimization market while it started the analysis of mobile data security opportunities, leading to the launch of the Approov app authentication service in 2016.



Approov is an app authentication service that allows API backends to positively identify that requests are being made by a legitimate mobile app.[21]

Kristopher Sandoval, an author for Nordic APIs, conducted a fully independent review of Approov in February 2017 and noted that "… the threat to public-facing APIs in the mobile space is real, dangerous, and often inefficiently mitigated." [22]

After evaluating the Approov solution, he concluded that "Its approach to securing applications in the mobile environment is novel, and the way CriticalBlue goes about this is perhaps one of the more secure ways of doing so. While using cloud services for authentication is often highly questionable, their implementation in this case looks rock solid." [22]

While pointing out that "… preventing the types of reverse engineering issues that Approov is designed to stop is vitally important" [22] he recommends that companies should consider the possible savings of integration. "If the cost can be justified then Approov is a powerful solution." [22]

According to Steven Puddephatt, Business Solutions Architect at the Racing Post, "[a]t the Racing Post we've historically had problems with data scrapers on our site and have relied on 'after the fact' mechanisms such as IP blocking. We are now [December 2016] on the precipice of exposing our API to the general public, and we are understandably reticent given the value of our data. We searched the market and only Approov offered the strong mobile app authentication and security we required [...] We are now very confident we can launch a public facing API without fear of unauthorized access."[23]

Bill Buchanan, Professor of Computing, The Cyber Academy, Edinburgh Napier University, stated, "[w]e have analyzed Approov for both its cryptography strength and also for an initial penetration test. The current system has very good levels of assurance which provide significantly reduced risk within the key application areas."[23]


First released in 2009, Prism dynamically traces software applications at runtime and captures data that can be used to analyze and identify the causes of poor performance.[24] Prism received the "Best of Show" Award at the 2009 Silicon Valley Embedded Systems Conference.[25]

Bryon Moyer, in Real World Multicore Embedded Systems, states that Prism's objective is "to provide analysis and an exploration and verification environment for embedded software development using multicore architectures."[26] Moyer also describes the Prism interface as a set of integrated views in the GUI that display interactions between threads, data dependencies, cache analysis, along with the microprocessor pipeline.[26]

Matassa and Domeika, in Break Away with Intel Atom Processors, similarly state that Prism is a "toolsuite aimed at optimized software development for multi-core and/or multithreaded architectures."[27] While mentioning the same analysis views in the Prism GUI described by Moyer, they also describe the dynamic tracing approach, whereby "⁠[t]⁠races of the user's software application are extracted either from a simulator of the underlying processor core or via an instrumentation approach where the application is dynamically instrumented to produce the required data."[27]


Finalized in 2003 and commercially released in 2004, CriticalBlue's Cascade is a C to RTL synthesizer.[28][29][30] Richard Taylor and David Stewart, from CriticalBlue itself, provided a chapter in Customizable Embedded Processors, describing Cascade as a "solution [that] allows software functionality implemented on an existing main CPU to be migrated onto an automatically...generated coprocessor."[31] They stated that this is realized as an automated design flow from an embedded software implementation onto a coprocessor described in RTL.[31] They identified offloading computationally-intensive algorithms from the main processor as the primary usage of such a coprocessor.[31] Cascade was awarded "Best Wireless Design Tool" in 2003 by the Wireless Systems Design magazine.


  • GB patent 2393811, Richard M Taylor, "A configurable microprocessor architecture incorporating direct execution unit connectivity", issued 2004-09-29, assigned to CriticalBlue Ltd .
  • GB patent 2394085, Richard M Taylor, "Generating code for a configurable microprocessor", issued 2005-03-23, assigned to CriticalBlue Ltd .
  • GB patent 2393809, Richard M Taylor, "Automatic configuration of a microprocessor", issued 2004-04-07, assigned to CriticalBlue Ltd .
  • GB patent 2393812, Richard M Taylor, "Microprocessor instruction execution method for exploiting parallelism", issued 2004-04-07, assigned to CriticalBlue Ltd .
  • GB patent 2393810, Richard M Taylor, "Automatic configuration of a microprocessor influenced by an input program", issued 2004-04-07, assigned to CriticalBlue Ltd .


  1. Hounsell, Ben & Taylor, Richard. Co-processor Synthesis: A New Methodology for Embedded Software Acceleration, Proceedings of the Design, Automation and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition (DATE’04), 16 February 2004. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  2. Taylor, Richard et al. Automated data cache placement for embedded VLIW ASIPs, codes-isss, pp. 39–44, Third IEEE/ACM/IFIP International Conference on Hardware/Software Codesign and System Synthesis (CODES+ISSS'05), 19 September 2005. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  3. Morgan, Paul & Taylor, Richard. ASIP instruction encoding for energy and area reduction, DAC '07 Proceedings of the 44th annual Design Automation Conference, Pages 797-800, 4 June 2007. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.


  1. ^ "Executive Profile - Lucio Lanza Ph.D.", BusinessWeek. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  2. ^ Van Blommestein, Rob. "Kathryn Kranen, President and CEO of Jasper Design Automation, Joins CriticalBlue Board of Directors", Yahoo! Finance, 19 March 2013. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  3. ^ "OWASP Automated Threats to Web Applications". OWASP. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Company registration record", Companies House. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Critical Blue collects $2m funding". Electronics Metropolis Media Publishing. 1 October 2003. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Winners of 2002 SMART:SCOTLAND Competition", The Scottish Government, 16 June 2003. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  7. ^ Dorsey, Kristy. "Tech start-up shows the colour of its money", The Herald (Glasgow), 29 September 2003. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  8. ^ Goering, Richard. "Co-processor synthesis startup wins first-round funding", EETimes, 2 October 2003. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Critical Blue collects $2m funding", Electronics Weekly, 1 October 2003. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Multicore Association Adds CriticalBlue to its Membership", Multicore Association, 7 May 2008. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Multicore Association Rolls Out Developer’s Guide to Software Programming for Multicore Designs", Multicore Association, 14 February 2013. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  12. ^ "CriticalBlue raises $4M, adds Investors Toshiba Corporation and Scottish Venture Fund", Embedded Computing, 10 September 2008. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  13. ^ "Toshiba, CriticalBlue collaborate on multicore development environment", EETimes, 23 September 2008. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  14. ^ "CriticalBlue and MIPS Technologies Enable Software Developers to Quantify Benefits of Migrating to MIPS32(R)-Based Multicore Platforms", GlobeNewswire, 32 March 2010. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  15. ^ "CriticalBlue Provides Multicore Software Development Analysis Environment for OCTEON and OCTEON II Processors", Cavium, 4 August 2010. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Freescale and CriticalBlue expand collaboration on multicore software development environments" Archived 2014-06-23 at, Freescale, 1 December 2010. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  17. ^ "CriticalBlue announces support for TI C66x DSPs", Texas Instruments, 4 October 2011. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Evaluating HD Video Encoder Performance on 2nd Generation Intel Core Processor-Based Devices Using CriticalBlue Prism", Intel, 2011. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  19. ^ "CriticalBlue Announces Broader Support for Renesas' Multicore Platforms Within Prism", Bloomberg News, 2 May 2012. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  20. ^ McLellan, Paul. "Kathryn Kranen Joins CriticalBlue's Board", SemiWiki, 5 February 2013. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Approov Official Documentation". Retrieved on 13 January 2017.
  22. ^ a b c d "Review of Approov for mobile API Security", Nordic APIs, 2 February 2017. Retrieved on 8 February 2017.
  23. ^ a b "CriticalBlue Launches Approov, Next Generation Mobile API Abuse/Misuse Prevention System", PR Newswire, 13 December 2016. Retrieved on 17 January 2017.
  24. ^ "CriticalBlue Delivers Prism, The First Embedded Multicore Development System to Leverage Unmodified Sequential Software.", EDA Cafe, 25 March 2009. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  25. ^ Balacco, Stephen. "VDC Awards CriticalBlue the Embeddie Best of Show Award for the 2009 Embedded Systems Conference", VDC Research, 4 May 2009. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  26. ^ a b Moyer, Bryon (11 April 2013). Real World Multicore Embedded Systems: A Practical Approach: Expert Guide. Newnes. pp. 323–324. ISBN 978-0-12-416018-7.
  27. ^ a b Matassa, Lori; Domeika, Max (16 December 2010). Break Away with Intel Atom Processors: A Guide to Architecture Migration. Intel Press. pp. 325–326. ISBN 978-1-934053-37-9.
  28. ^ "CriticalBlue Provides EDA's First True Co-Processor Synthesis Toolset for Embedded Microprocessor Applications", Design & Reuse, 12 May 2003. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  29. ^ Ball, Richard. "Scottish firm's co-processor runs native software", Electronics weekly, 14 May 2003. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  30. ^ Goering, Richard. "CriticalBlue releases coprocessor synthesis tool", EETimes, 19 May 2004. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
  31. ^ a b c Ienne, Paolo; Leupers, Rainer (28 July 2006). Customizable Embedded Processors, Volume V: Design Technologies and Applications (Systems on Silicon). Morgan Kaufmann. pp. 210–211. ISBN 978-0-12-369526-0.