Embedded System Security in Smart Consumer Electronics

Embedded System Security in Smart Consumer Electronics

By: Sacheen Patil

Publish Date: January 2, 2023

Research suggests that global Internet of Things (IoT) devices will almost triple from 9.7 billion in 2020 to more than 29 billion IoT devices in 2030. As the scope of IoT grows, it also increases the risk of data leakage from connected devices, a nemesis for any tech team. However, by implementing embedded security systems, enterprises can minimize vulnerabilities and enhance data safety in the devices they build. Given its wide usage in consumer electronics, embedded system security is a complete lifecycle responsibility. It begins before writing the first line of code, protects against unauthorized access to devices, and maintains data integrity till the device gets decommissioned.

Features of secure embedded systems for smart electronics, such as computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, wearables, game consoles, and AR-VR devices, include:

Secure Boot: Any gaps in system boot sequences, if left untreated, can be exploited to gain unauthorized access and steal data from compromised software. While consumer electronics have options for using secure boot technologies, they must also check that their boot sequence has verified operating system code launches using encryption and authentication. This is critical to ensure that hardware starts up only authentic software and not malicious code.

Data Protection at Rest: To further protect data and intellectual property from a device, it is essential to make critical information incomprehensible for threat actors. Encryption is the best strategy in this case. When cryptographic algorithms encrypt a software system and its data, and the decryption key is beyond the attacker’s access, it becomes difficult for them to run any malicious code on the system.

Trusted Execution Environment: A trusted execution environment (TEE) helps in hardware-level isolation of critical elements, such as CPU cores, cache, memory, and devices, to protect code and data. Being an execution environment with partitions, TEE makes embedded systems more resilient by not allowing one component’s errors to affect another directly or indirectly. The security level offered for trusted applications running on an electronic device is higher than that a rich OS provides.

Containerized and Isolated Software: Like affected hardware components in a smart device, any unsecured code can compromise an embedded system. It is, therefore, critical to isolate, containerize, and sandbox codes to prevent hackers from running random commands and getting unrestricted access to the entire system.

Security of Communications: An embedded system cannot allow any random command to communicate with it. Any external sources trying to connect with a consumer electronic system must prove their authenticity before communicating with it. While building their devices, manufacturers can leverage established encryption protocols such as SSL and TLS to reinforce secure communication even after verifying its purpose. The objective is to ensure that a system communicates only with trusted setups and not threat actors.

Validating Data Inputs: Data collected by embedded systems must be validated before being shared with critical components in a device. Any data entering an electronic device becomes an attack vector if exploited to gain access or corrupt the device’s memory to trigger a denial of service. Comprehensive data validation protects embedded systems from compromises and helps to keep the device functioning flawlessly.

Implementing Mandatory Access Control (MAC): MAC is a security strategy that prevents individual resource owners from permitting or rejecting access to resource objects in a file system. Unlike discretionary access control (DAC) electronic systems, the ones with MAC can quantify access grants and rejection policies in the system design stage. It eliminates the possibility of bypassing or disabling security controls deployed in an IoT device. When MAC comes into play, even if hackers gain root-level access, they cannot change or disable security settings.

Reducing Attack Surface: Threat actors need only one lacuna to exploit a system, making it imperative that manufacturers protect their devices against all risks. Every line of code deployed increases the possibility for attackers to locate an entry point into the embedded system. By eliminating unnecessary code and the interfaces in an electronic device, manufacturers can decrease the attack surface and prevent attacks on the embedded systems. It is good to avoid superfluous features, drivers, and code because cyber criminals cannot exploit any vulnerability when a service has been disabled or the interface removed.

How YASH Supports Secure Embedded Solutions

When smart consumer electronics OEMs consider multiple attack vectors and secure their embedded systems with various defensive measures, they actively prevent hackers from compromising a connected device. Efforts to hack such a system will be significantly more than the benefits they get.

YASH offers a range of solutions to help customers gain a leading edge in the complex embedded security systems domain. Our proven capabilities have helped customers reduce the complexity of connected electronic devices while ensuring that they perform the functions they were designed for. Our firmware, software/hardware design, testing, and managed services for device management have helped customers tailor device security to evolving IoT application requirements.

To learn more about our embedded system security solutions, write to us at info@yash.com

Sacheen Patil
Sacheen Patil

Vice President & Global Head - IoT & Embedded Practice & CoE

Sacheen has over 26+ years of experience in the Engineering/Industrial services & IT services company and predominantly worked for Manufacturing, Transportation/Automotive, Healthcare/Medical Devices and Energy & Utilities Industry Verticals sectors.

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