Embedded software systems security is relevant to all industries, from aerospace and defense to household appliances.
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 even more threat actors.
One thing for certain,cyberattacks on embedded systems are on the rise. Embedded systems control numerous commonly used devices, including tablets, medical devices, industrial instrumentation, automobiles, and more. For embedded system security, you can use a number of techniques to reduce vulnerabilities and provide protection against threats against embedded devices.
Believing that embedded systems fell below the radar of serious hackers led to waves of attacks. Hackers can exploit these systems to steal intellectual property, copy designs, gain access to proprietary information about companies and their customers, utilize them as platforms to propagate further attacks, and even cause real world physical damage and harm to humans.
Two types of security apply to embedded systems: physical security and software security, which should act in partnership to thwart cyberattacks on embedded systems.
For physical security, organizations can use a number of techniques to reduce vulnerabilities and provide protection against threats against embedded devices.
For example, organizations can utilize a tamper-resistant enclosure around the design. Physical and electronic features, such as deadman switches or anti-tamper meshes, can be added to the enclosure that detect opening of the enclosure, or perhaps other intrusions such as drilling.
These features can connect to circuitry that recognizes and reacts to the tamper. Board hardware then can react with countermeasures, such as resetting the system or erase passwords, codes, and other critical information.
Embedded software security manages and responds to malicious behavior happening in the system, both during the initialization process and during run time. Software security features include authentication of a device to a network, firewalling network traffic and stringent hardening of system software to name a few.
As vulnerabilities are identified, software for embedded systems need to be mitigated with patches, which require software updates. Including security in the design phase helps ensure that an embedded system has a way to get updates and is capable of running new software.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers Embedded Software Security Training, a 2-day course that explores the foundations of embedded software security. Participants learn about important embedded software vulnerabilities and attacks that exploit them.
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