The Ultimate Guide to Embedded Cyber Security

icon Posted by: Hasan Sameer
icon April 8, 2022

In Brief:

What is Embedded Cyber Security?

Embedded cyber security is the set of cybersecurity measures to safeguard the embedded systems from all kinds of malicious activities including hacks and breaches. It ensures that the embedded systems have proper mechanisms in place to mitigate the potential cyber-attacks.

 

9.1%

is the estimated growth rate of the embedded systems market from 2021 to 2030

5.5%

of CAGR growth is expected by 2026 in embedded security market.

7.0%

of CAGR growth is expected specifically in the automotive category.

All About Embedded Cyber Security

It is certainly the need of the hour to address the issue of embedded cyber security. The embedded systems are generally small devices and gadgets with integrated hardware and software. They have the client and the server at the same place connected to the internet.

Hackers can exploit the security vulnerabilities and hack through these systems. These systems are connected to your network. So, a small hack can eventually result in taking your entire system down.

Going down this comprehensive journey, we will first talk about the approach to adopting embedded systems security.

Methodology to Deploy Embedded Cyber Security

The embedded system concerns itself with both hardware and software. Hence, embedded cyber security needs to cover both these aspects.

Let us address both one by one:

Practices to Adopt for Hardware Security

  • Trusted Execution Environment: It allows the hardware to isolate and perform secure operations. For instance, you can segregate user authentication here and safeguard your sensitive information.
  • Appropriate Partition of Hardware Resources: The different units of the hardware must be segregated properly. This prevents the intervention of the processor, memory, cache, and network interfaces into one another.
  • Executable Space Protection: In this process, we mark some of the memory regions as inexecutable. If anyone attempts to execute the codes within these marked regions, they will face an exception.

Practices to adopt for Software Security

  • Using Secure Boot: While booting an embedded device, you must use cryptographic algorithms to verify the boot image. This will ensure a correct boot sequence. Also, it verifies that the software and the relevant data are not tampered with.
  • Using Microkernel OS: These operating systems are smaller versions or a subset of all its features. Since the requirement of operational functions is very less. There are very few running codes. This effectively reduces the surface of the attack.
  • Proper Package of Software Applications: You must use software applications that are self-contained and properly packed. All the software and hardware tools must be included in the package.
  • Validating Inputs: Data and information inputs from external untrusted sources might be harmful. Hence, you must validate and sanitize all of them before passing them to the critical hardware and software.
  • Protecting the Data at rest: There is a lot of sensitive data on the embedded system. This might include sensitive software, secure keys, configuration files, and passwords. You need to arrange adequate encryptions for all this data.

Major Challenges for Embedded Cyber Security

The embedded systems are still a technology that is making its initial strides. cyber criminals are always looking to exploit the vulnerabilities present in these systems.

Following are the major challenges in deploying cyber security to embedded systems:

1.      Lack of Standardization

Standardization helps any technology maintain regularity throughout all its functionalities. There are no set standards for cybersecurity measures in embedded systems. Although there are a few emerging players in the auto and other rising industries working upon the solution for this.

2.      Developers Lack the Expertise

Most developers out there are unaware of how to develop secure embedded systems. The lack of standardization that we mentioned in the first point, is the main reason for this. Also, the complications of embedded applications contribute to this. Furthermore, writing a secure to perform efficiently within the constrained environment of an embedded system is a tricky task.

3.      Prevalent use of Third-Party Components

Most of the embedded system devices require either third-party software or hardware to function. This leads to security gaps due to not having thorough tests on the assembly for flaws and vulnerabilities.

4.      A Direct Internet Access

The embedded system devices are usually connected directly to the internet. Most of them do not get the secure covering of the enterprise firewall. This makes these systems exposed to undetected network attacks.

5.      Being Out of Date

The threats online are continuously upgrading. But the embedded systems are slightly behind in terms of constant up-gradation. Th makes them susceptible to a lot of bugs and hackers can easily exploit their vulnerabilities.

Key Threats to Embedded Cyber Security

Associated with Firmware:

  • The vulnerabilities in the host system carrying the embedded system
  • Connection network of the embedded system with other devices
  • A physically connecting device with a malicious code
  • Vulnerable points at the integration point of the hardware and the software

Associated with Software:

  • Improper Input Validation
  • Improper Authentication
  • Information Exposure
  • Improper operations resistance
  • Buffer Overflow

Before You Go!

  • Despite having all the tools and technologies we are still lagging on keeping our embedded systems security at par. We need to cross a lot of barriers to make it happen.
  • Getting in touch with an expert like RSK cyber security who can solve this problem for you. We recognize the root cause of the vulnerabilities and provide instant solutions for them.

Tags

  • Cyber Security embedded systems
  • embedded cyber security
  • Embedded systems security

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