Embedded System Security: Important Steps And Main Issues

By: Lela Terashvili, 5 Jan 2024
6   min read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Security for embedded systems is a form of cyber protection that can prevent unauthorized access and use of built-in devices. Embedded devices are often interconnected with the IoT and can be found in various consumer goods, including cars, medical devices, industrial controllers, printers, computers, and smartphones. Therefore, embedded devices security is essential since it protects the devices.

With the effective protection of embedded systems, you ensure complete confidentiality and safeguarding against theft. Many global companies are committed to developing embedded systems and continuously enhancing security measures. As a result, they can assure consumers that their embedded systems have the necessary security mechanisms to withstand potential cyberattacks.

Why Embedded Systems Security is Important?

To value the significance of security in embedded systems, take a look at the issues that a cyberattack can create for a company:

  • Regulatory penalties
  • Losses due to public outcry
  • Damage to the company’s reputation
  • Loss of confidential and other significant information
  • A major data breach
  • Interruptions to the company’s operations
  • Missed deadlines
  • The need for an unscheduled analysis of the system and increased security measures

Even if you can quickly resolve all the problems that have arisen, it is not yet time to completely let your guard down. It is a well-known fact that the consequences of a cyberattack can recur even after several years, resulting in hidden costs.

Embedded security systems can help you address a range of security concerns for your company. However, an untrustworthy system is unlikely to prevent confidential data from being leaked and will only add to the many threats in our world. Additionally, numerous hackers have been infiltrating corporate networks through embedded devices, such as printers.

Best Practices for Protecting Embedded Systems

Secure Boot Process

The boot process is the foundation of an embedded system’s security. If an attacker can compromise the boot process, they can potentially gain control of the entire system. A secure boot process can prevent this by verifying the integrity of the boot code before allowing it to execute. This ensures the system only runs trusted code, preventing attacks such as bootkits and rootkits.

Secure Communications

Embedded systems are often connected to the internet or other networks, which makes them vulnerable to attacks such as eavesdropping. Therefore, it’s crucial to use secure communication protocols like SSL/TLS and SSH for embedded systems protection. Furthermore, strong encryption should be used to secure sensitive data both in transit and at rest.

Access Control

Access control is essential to embedded system protection. Limiting access to sensitive data and system functions can prevent attackers from gaining access to crucial components of the system. Moreover, to prevent illegal access, it is essential to utilize strong passwords and employ multifactor authentication. Additionally, it is strongly advised to limit physical access to the system by locking down physical interfaces and using tamper-evident seals.

Continuous Monitoring and Logging

Continuous monitoring and logging can help detect and respond to security incidents on time. Monitoring system logs and other security-related data makes it possible to identify suspicious activity and respond before it becomes a serious issue and influences security. Additionally, monitoring can assist in identifying potential vulnerabilities in the system, allowing for proactive measures to be taken to prevent attacks.

Regular Software Updates and Patches

Software vulnerabilities are a common attack vector for embedded systems. It is essential to regularly update the system with the latest security patches and updates to prevent these vulnerabilities from being exploited. Additionally, it is necessary to use a secure update process to prevent attackers from compromising the update process itself. Also, don’t forget to implement embedded security software for better protection.

Physical Security

Unfortunately, physical security is an often-overlooked component of security for embedded systems. Physical attacks such as tampering and theft can compromise the embedded system’s security and lead to cyberattacks. Therefore, it’s vital to use tamper-evident seals and locking mechanisms to prevent physical access to the system. Additionally, it is recommended to implement security measures such as alarms and surveillance cameras to deter potential attackers.

Secure Development Practices

Following best practices for software development, such as secure coding methods and performing regular code reviews, allows for the security of embedded systems. Additionally, it is crucial to implement security testing throughout the development process to identify and address potential vulnerabilities early on.

Embedded System Security Challenges

We will list IoT device manufacturers’ primary security challenges regarding embedded systems. This will help us understand the importance of embedded device protection used by your company.

Third-Party Components

Nowadays, not all device makers can access a closed production cycle. Each corporation has its reasons for doing so, typically technological and commercial. As a result, IoT device manufacturers incorporate off-the-shelf components into their devices.

This leads to the obvious conclusion that these components may pose a threat. The risk of these components being vulnerable to malware is relatively high. Embedded device protection allows you to detect a potential threat safely and immediately block or eliminate it.

Lack of Standardization

The cybersecurity and IoT industry is poorly standardized, making it challenging for manufacturers to ensure the safety of the components they purchase. 

Nonetheless, there are some encouraging signs, as many companies desire to play by completely understandable rules and provide consumers with somewhat dependable products. Yet, one of the security difficulties is the development of secure devices. As a result, manufacturers struggle to have confidence in the safety of the components they purchase. This field is entirely new, and there are few optimal options for manufacturers to completely grasp how well they are performing protection.

Unmanaged and Unpatched Devices

This is one of the embedded system security issues related to a device vulnerability. IoT device manufacturers frequently deploy devices with limited control and maintenance. This raises legitimate concerns that the device may not be well-suited to being affected by malware. However, embedded device security can monitor and install all required updates on time.

Insecure Network Connectivity

The rise of 5G in popularity is unstoppable. This is, of course, a very good thing. However, it necessitates that devices be directly connected to mobile networks. 

As a result, securing the organization’s internal security stack is impossible. Therefore, it is necessary to supply embedded security devices and defend them from future threats.

What Will You Get With A Good Embedded System Security?

The Detection and Prevention of Potential Threats.

This includes the ability to scan the system for malware, viruses, and other dangerous programs that may be present. In addition, a robust solution should be capable of detecting and responding to zero-day attacks, which exploit vulnerabilities unknown to the vendor or the security community.

Secure Boot and Firmware Update Capabilities

With an embedded security system, you can verify that the firmware and boot code has not been tampered with and that updates can be safely applied. Secure boot ensures that only approved software is launched by the system, while certain firmware updates ensure that updates are installed without tampering or interception.

Secure Communication Capabilities

The system can authenticate and encrypt device communications, ensuring that data sent between devices is secure and confidential. The system should also be capable of detecting and preventing illegal access to network devices and blocking denial-of-service attacks.

Granular Access Control and Permission Management

Access to devices and data is only granted to authorized personnel. This includes creating user roles, assigning permissions, and enforcing device and data access policies.

Device Management Capabilities

This includes the capacity to manage firmware updates, software patches, and configuration changes, as well as monitor the health and condition of devices. This ensures that the devices function correctly and that any security vulnerabilities are addressed immediately.

Scalability and Flexibility

The solution can manage many devices and is easily customized to meet the organization’s needs. In addition, it is compatible with existing security and IT infrastructure, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and identity and access management systems.

Visibility and Analytics

The system collects data and provides insights into device activity, security events, and overall performance. The solution also generates reports and alerts, allowing administrators to quickly identify and respond to security threats.

How Sirin Software Can Help?

In today’s technology-driven world, embedded systems are becoming more pervasive and interconnected. Unfortunately, with this increase in connectivity comes security risks, and companies must take steps to protect their embedded systems.

Improving the security of embedded systems requires a comprehensive and proactive approach. By implementing a comprehensive security plan, working closely with vendors and suppliers, and collaborating with industry groups, a professional company like Sirin Software can help ensure your embedded systems are secure and protected from cyberattacks.

We can guarantee that with Sirin Software’s services, you should be sure that your device is developed to the highest standard, with keen attention to detail and a focus on efficiency and functionality. This results in devices that are not only reliable and user-friendly but also innovative and cutting-edge, providing a competitive edge in the market.

Conclusion

Finally, being a key component of modern technology, strong security for embedded system solutions provides various benefits to a company. Therefore, by choosing a solution with these capabilities, businesses can ensure the security of their devices and the capacity to detect and respond to security threats in a timely and effective manner.

As a result, more companies can now protect and secure an embedded system against hackers and cyberattacks.

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