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Embedded System Security and its Risks Explained!

Embedded SecuritySince the popularity and demand for System on Chip (SoC) gain traction in every field of the technology-based sector, the use of the embedded system are becoming the norm.

With a single or few tasks assigned for every embedded system-based ICs fitted in every device, its security has become of paramount importance as we are transitioning to a smarter age.

Recording the century’s highest cybercrime rates, 2020, as well as 2021, has been a tough time for IT professionals as several Big Tech companies deploy more than enough workforce to combat these incoming attacks.

This is why cybersecurity is now becoming the much-needed weapon every company must wield to protect their sensitive assets.

Embedded System Security risks can be judged easily if we take the high demand for Smart Devices owned by many households into account.

Since the trend of IoT products is attracting more and more consumers, appropriate cyber security measures must be baked into every system and at every level.

However, all these Embedded System Security measures require a scalable building block approach wherein designers need to establish much-needed security approaches to scale from low-cost microcontrollers through to high-performance application processor-based systems.

Regardless of the type of embedded system, we are dealing with, Embedded System Security along with its common misconceptions as well as its significance can be later discussed.

Firstly, let’s fully understand what Embedded System Security entails.

Breakdown of Embedded Systems Security

Embedded SystemsEmbedded System Security can be best described as a specialized cybersecurity field that focusses on preventing malicious access in embedded systems.

It provides carefully planned mechanisms equipped for a specific type of device that varies to protect a system from all types of malicious behavior.

Since the firmware in embedded systems proved to be quite difficult to update in the past, those systems possessed a shorter life cycle of almost 15 years.

In this digital age of smart homes, the nature of embedded systems has now evolved to the next level and so has the intensity of cyber-attacks.

Misconceptions Revolving around Embedded Systems Security 

CountermeasureSince the embedded system itself offers password protection and encryption protocols like SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or SSH (Secure Shell), many people have made their assumptions that embedded systems don’t require security.

Some of these common misconceptions on Embedded System Security risks include,

  • Embedded Products are not susceptible to cyberattacks
  • These devices don’t attract hackers
  • Embedded devices are already equipped with more than enough encryption and authentication layers that could hinder any possible attack

Despite the in-built protocols offered in any embedded devices, these assumptions are no longer valid.

Ever since the sophisticated embedded attacks have increased their intensity, better and more refined Embedded System Security measures need to be taken in all these embedded products.

Relevance of Embedded Systems Security

Since embedded systems have integrated themselves in multiple fields ranging from aerospace to defense to household appliances, performing mission-oriented as well as safety-critical functions, Embedded System Security has gained more importance.

With every device now being interconnected to the Internet of Things (IoT), the most secure embedded system is the one that is turned off, and the next most secure system is the completely isolated one.

What’s the Solution Now?

Embedded System Security represents a three-way partnership of hardware-software and cloud.

It doesn’t matter how advanced and security-aware one’s software is, the risk of hacking is always high if we rely fully on software alone.

To surpass this looming hurdle, hardware, software, as well as cloud vendors, must join forces to tackle all these attacks.

As hardware technologies ensure device boot integrity, and SoCs security capabilities provide robust key management and encryption.

Hardware tech also ensures the OS gives security functionality like access control policies, rootless execution, path space control, and thread-level anomaly detection.

Additional Weapons Required to Ensure Embedded Systems Security

ToolsAs suggested above, along with hardware technologies, we are listing some of the non-exhaustive lists of tools that offer Embedded System Security.

Bus blaster: High speed debugging platform to provide interactions with hardware debug ports

Salae: Used to decode several protocols like Serial, SPI, and I2C, etc.

Exploit: Open-source IoT security testing and exploitation framework

FACT (The Firmware Analysis and Comparison Tool): Used to automate firmware security analysis.

Hydrabus: Open-source, multi-tool hardware used in debugging, hacking as well as in the penetration testing of embedded hardware

Routersploit:  Open-source exploitation framework required for embedded devices


Aishwarya Saxena

A book geek, with creative mind, an electronics degree, and zealous for writing.Creativity is the one thing in her opinion which drove her to enter into editing field. Allured towards south Indian cuisine and culture, love to discover new cultures and their customs. Relishes in discovering new music genres.

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