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Embedded Security expansion in the IoT world

How can Embedded Security be Managed in the IoT World?

By Ritesh Sutaria 0 Comment March 3, 2020

Technology has re-evolved itself to get its best potential look — the shift from a simple mobile to a smart one and now e-sim and IoT. Everything is just magical and startling. The Top Embedded Companies have stirred up to meet the demands and are absolutely nailing in their division. IoT has certainly come up as a need to be fulfilled. It has not only influenced homes but has changed the look of cities. It has the capability to approach the possibilities we can think of. IoT app development companies are doing their best to serve the technology as per the demands and needs.

Coming to digital security transformation and its importance, the acceptance of digital solutions and trust over it is astonishing. We have seen a queue in a bank for money withdrawal and now digital money transfer from different payment gateways. It is utterly stunning the way we have accepted and trusted these systems, Today, the same trust of the users is observed in websites and apps in the field of connected things.

The growing urgency of security has now reached from cyber (cloud) security to the hardware level (silicon). Thus here comes embedded security into the vision and provides an essential link in granting both enterprise and consumer trust.

Any idea about embedded security?

You can guess from the term, as it merely confers about “device security”. Embedded can be segregated into two significant aspects- ensuring integrity and confidentiality.

Let me throw some crucial questions related to embedded.

  • Integrity: Are you sure the data you are receiving is coming from a trusted place and is authentic?
  • Confidentiality: How do you safeguard your essential data, intellectual property and safety mechanisms (keys) for those secrets?

Embedded security can free you from all the major disquieting factors and real threats. Here I am listing few:

  • Counterfeiting- This covers both unauthorized duplicates and the overwriting of product firmware with a new illegal firmware image.
  • DDoS attacks- Distributed denial of service is one of the most common attacks in which device and IP address are hijacked to then flood other network servers to force temporary shut down.
  • Tampering- This could be defined as an attempt to extract keys or yield desired results like incorrect meter readings through physical tampering. In fact, some devices radiate electromagnetic radiation that can unlock specific models of electronic door locks.

Above mentioned are just a few threats, and there are many others which would grow and evolve with the lapse of time. Not to worry much, because embedded software development companies can help you in sorting out challenges of security. Device security is integrated with cloud security, protocol security, and manufacturing security when a device is developed.

Also Read: How IoT Solutions can Enhance Agriculture in 2020?

How will this evolution change the outlook of businesses?

Businesses that have already taken ground in the market and are expecting to sustain for the next ten years and beyond should evaluate their products, systems and threats. The main aim is to evaluate the cost spent to breach security versus cost spent on providing solutions for high security.

As said, there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions in digital security, but there are embedded software companies in India that will provide high quality and reliable solutions. Let us read about some of the device security solutions which you can get:

Developer best practices:

The first step to the success of the product is- the right and precise decisions, along with precautions taken in product development from the beginning. There are many crucial steps you need to pay heed, which requires no hardware or software. Here are some practices for developers to follow:

  • Revise code for security issues, such as buffer overflows and unregulated input data
  • Lock debug interfaces
  • Use built-in protocol security
  • Use third parties to test your device

Protective layers in memory:

Adding to the above practices, specific hardware and software features can also contribute to protecting the device. For instance, MPU, i.e. memory protection unit allows privileged software to define memory access permission. IC’s also have SMU, which is a security management unit which offers more flexible and fine-grained protections that covers microcontroller peripherals.

Built-in hardware accelerators for encryption and key generation:

Key generation and encryption are other security solutions to protect the device from deceivers. Most of the iot application development companies provide IoT applications which should have some form of cryptography for encrypted data transfer.

The other option available is- instead of doing cryptography in software, devices can have built-in hardware to increase the performance of the device without negotiating with the security. Nowadays, most of the MCUs consist of hardware accelerators for cryptographic functions like AES and SHA hash functions. In fact, MCUs even have Random Number Generators for the generation of secure keys.

A superset of Random Number Generators provides superior robustness, or “entropy” and are then referred to as True Random Number Generators. There are hardware accelerators like cyclic redundancy check which can help with code error-detection. The CRC can contribute to sustaining data integrity in some aspects of a device.

Debug and maintenance:

Debug is as important as a front door is in a house. It is a necessary part of the device for development, product creation and the failure analysis of returned units. But like the opening to a home, it requires to be protected against any corrupt practices.

Hence, let’s see available options while securing a debug port:

  • Unlocked debug port– This one could turn out to be risky so never go for it. An unlocked debug port is prone to attacks as it offers low-level security.
  • Permanent lock– It is considered as good security, but its failure analysis (FA) is complicated.
  • Memory erases upon unlock– This security protects data but could not safeguard the device from the new/fake malware.
  • Lock with global password– This lock is highly secure until the password is not disclosed lest the entire IoT device fleet is compromised.
  • Lock with a unique device password– This is also counted as good security, but it’s quite challenging to manufacture it.
  • Lock with asymmetric key– This security port provides the highest security and most flexibility for FA.

RoT:

You might have come across this term before and undoubtedly aware of it.
As we know, the solutions, as mentioned above, are excellent and dependable to an extent. But what if the software implementations become corrupted? Tense? Because it would be similar to the ” fox guarding the henhouse” situation.

To resist the situation, it is better to validate the device’s contents against a Root of Trust (RoT). A Root of Trust isn’t referred to one specific product or implementation but instead is a concept that can be satisfied by a few different applications.

For embedded devices, it can be inscribed with code and cryptographic keys that are present in ROM or other permanent memory. A Secure Element (SEP) can execute the process in isolated hardware. Secure elements come in both external chip packages that are linked to MCUs and built-in monolithic (on-die) elements.

However, developers prefer on-chip implementation as it contributes to reducing system cost and provides higher levels of security.

Also Read: IoT- An Advanced Approach to Update Small Businesses

Secure key storage:

One of the critical tasks is to protect the secrecy of a system’s private key. Hence, secure key storage comes in play to defend other secrets like intellectual property and private data.
Secure Element is an excellent solution method for storing private keys as it offers permanent and safe memory location with least access.

The final protection layer which denies access is a physically unclonable function (PUF). A PUF which appears as a unique gate-level fingerprint of an MCU is functioned during the power-on boot sequence. PUF is an advanced protection way which provides device-only access to a private key while limiting its exposure. Thus, it is considered as a sophisticated and reliable technology in security.

How to stop DPA and tampering?

The above-mentioned solutions are great for cyber-attacks which are usually attempted from a remote location but if the hacker is approachable to the device. Some hackers observe the pattern of power supply and its voltage fluctuation pattern to get the device key. This technique is named as Differential Power Analysis (DPA). There are many countermeasures to restrain the attempts. Some embedded devices counteract by purposely fluctuating the power waveform.

Besides, some devices are capable of detecting the unusual changes in voltage or temperature and then alert the host interrupt handler. This whole process is termed as tamper detection.

DPA countermeasure and tamper detection, together provide high-level security to protect valuable information.

Hunt for the right solution:

Maintaining the security of the device isn’t cinch. The solution, as mentioned above, might hit your mind and make my words in vain, but the truth is there is a possibility that the suggested solutions might not be helpful for you or your system.

Knowing your product and then well-fitting solutions can only assure proper safety and smooth functioning. A reliable and tech-dedicated embedded software development and IoT development company can help you in getting the most suitable solutions for your device. The urgency for silicon- to-cloud security is growing every day.

Thus, it is required to safeguard the product from the looming threats and make it more secure and trustable for your users.

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