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Advances in digital technology and the advent of 5G and the Internet of Things, has created increased cybersecurity risks for embedded systems.

An embedded system is a microprocessor- or microcontroller-based system of hardware and software designed to perform dedicated functions within a larger mechanical or electrical system. Embedded systems can be anything from digital watches to domestic appliances and fitness trackers.

The most secure embedded system is one that is turned off, and the next most secure system is completely isolated. When embedded systems were islands of technology that contained minimal information, embedded software security was less important.

Embedded systems are now often connected to a communications network that exposes the system to more threat actors.

Like computers, many embedded systems have security vulnerabilities that can provide a way for a threat actor to gain access to the system. Typically, there is a time lag between the discovery of a specific vulnerability — such as a CVE, misconfiguration, or weak or missing encryption — and the availability and application of a patch or other remediation.

An embedded system is governed by integrated software that determines the behavior of the embedded devices. Usually, developers can interact with embedded software via a user interface, but systems with severe limitations may not support this.

Protecting embedded systems is quite a challenge because of their many limitations. To create effective and secure software for such systems, developers need deep knowledge of and extensive experience with embedded solutions.

Experts in this area say one of the best cybersecurity safeguards for embedded systems is to use safe languages. Research the embedded software development standards for the language of your choice before writing the first line of code. For example, if you’re going to use C or C++, study MISRA-C/C++ first.

Additionally, it’s important to enable a secure boot. This feature allows a microprocessor to verify the cryptographic key and location of the firmware before executing it. To enhance this protection, you can also enable a processor’s trusted execution environment feature, which creates a secure region in the microprocessor to store firmware.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers Cybersecurity Applied to Embedded Systems, a 2-day course where participants learn  fundamentals of embedded systems and applications of cybersecurity to illustrate unique vulnerabilities that are commonly exploited.

Additionally, Tonex offers nearly three dozen more courses in Cybersecurity Foundation. This includes cutting edge courses like:

Cybersecurity Fundamentals (2 days)

Electric Grid Cybersecurity Master Certification (4 weeks)

Network Security Training (2 days)

Software Security Training (2 days)

ICS Cybersecurity Training (4 days)

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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