An embedded system is a microprocessor-based computer hardware system with software that is designed to perform a dedicated function, either as an independent system or as a part of a large system. At the core is an integrated circuit designed to carry out computation for real-time operations.
These are stand-alone device with no operating system. Examples are a washing machine, music player, ATM, vending machine, data logger, etc.
The basic structure of an embedded system includes the following components:
- Sensor: The sensor measures and converts the physical quantity to an electrical signal, which can then be read by an embedded systems engineer or any electronic instrument. A sensor stores the measured quantity to the memory.
- A-D Converter: An analog-to-digital converter converts the analog signal sent by the sensor into a digital signal.
- Processor & ASICs: Processors assess the data to measure the output and store it to the memory.
- D-A Converter: A digital-to-analog converter changes the digital data fed by the processor to analog data.
- Actuator: An actuator compares the output given by the D-A Converter to the actual output stored and stores the approved output.
Embedded systems and general purpose ones require different cybersecurity approaches. The problem is there is no one-size fits all security solution for embedded devices. However, cybersecurity professionals believe security can be greatly improved by including security features in the early stages of design that will:
- Ensure the device firmware has not been tampered with
- The data stored by the device is secure
- Secure communication
- Protect the device from cyberattacks by going beyond password authentication and security protocols.
Beyond the embedded system themselves, software and firmware distribution should be organized so as to provide updates with trusted signatures that only the software editor can produce. This often calls for trusted third parties capable of emitting certificates, hosting private keys, and administrating them as a service from their highly secure data centers for customers.
Want to learn more about embedded systems and cybersecurity? 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:
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