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Table 1: Essential features of a good security framework. devices are very different from standard PCs or other consumer devices. These industrial operational assets are commonly fixed function devices that have been designed specifically to perform a specialized task. Many of them use a specialized operating system such as VxWorks, Nucleus, INTEGRITY or MQX, or a stripped down version of Linux. In many cases, installing new software on the system in the field either requires a specialized upgrade process or is simply not supported. In most, these devices are optimized to minimize processing cycles and memory usage and do not have extra processing resources available to support traditional security mechanisms. As a result, standard PC security solutions won’t solve the challenges of embedded devices. In fact, given the specialized nature of embedded systems, PC security solutions won’t even run on most embedded devices. Use of multiple layers of protection is the driving principle for enterprise security. This includes implementing firewalls, authentication/encryption, security protocols and intrusion detection/intrusion prevention systems. These are well established and proven security principles. Despite this industry awareness, firewalls are virtually absent in embedded systems, which instead mostly rely on simple password authentication and security protocols. This cavalier attitude towards security is based on assumptions that embedded devices are not attractive targets to hackers, embedded devices are not vulnerable to attacks or that authentication and encryption can provide adequate protection for embedded devices. These old assumptions are no longer valid; the number and sophistication of attacks against embedded devices continues to rise and greater security measures are needed. For over 25 years, cybersecurity has been a critical focus for large enterprises, whereas it has only recently become a focus for most engineers building embedded computing devices. “Experience is the best teacher, but the tuition is high”, or so goes the saying. Rather than learn all the lessons by experience, embedded engineers can take a page from the enterprise security playbook. To ensure a device is secure, the following capabilities need to be included: • Harden the device (Secure boot, authentication, anti- tamper) • Secure the communication (security protocols, embedded firewall) • Enable device visibility (remote command audit, event reporting) • Enable security management (remote policy management, integration with security management systems). These capabilities provide the foundation for building secure embedded devices. Building security into the device Building protection into the device itself provides a critical security layer - the devices are no longer dependent on the corporate firewall as their sole layer of security. In addition, the security can be customized to the needs of the device. A security solution for embedded devices must ensure the device firmware has not been tampered with. It must secure the data stored by the device, secure the communications in and out of the device, and it must protect the device from cyberattacks. This can only be achieved by including security in the early stages of design. Security controls must be applied even during the manufacturing of the device or component. Integrating a hacked device into a “secure” system could doom the entire project or network to failure. While there is no one one-size fits all security solution for embedded devices, solutions are available that provide a framework for OEMs. Icon Labs Floodgate Security framework provides OEMs with the core security capabilities required for securing their devices. This provides the flexibility needed to customize the solution to the specific requirements of their device, while ensuring that critical security capabilities are included. Implementing security within the device Not only must a security solution for embedded devices ensure the device firmware has not been tampered with, it also needs to secure the data stored by the device, secure the communication between the device and the network, and it protect the device from cyber-attacks. This can only be achieved by including security in the early stages of design. Unfortunately, there is no one one-size fits all security solution for embedded devices. Security requirements must take into consideration the cost of a security failure (economic, environmental, social, etc.), the risk of attack, available attack vectors, and the cost of implementing a security solution. Any security framework should provide the security features as shown in table 1. Kaspersky Labs’ report highlights the extent of today’s cyber threats. It is naïve to assume that the US and its allies have a monopoly on such technology. Everyone involved in the development of technology for critical infrastructure needs to recognize the threats and begin investing today in security solutions that provide the highest level of protection possible. Today’s modern embedded devices and systems are complex connected devices charged with performing critical functions. Including security in these devices is a critical design task. Security features must be considered early in the design process to ensure the device is protected from the advanced cyber-threats they will be facing now as well as attacks that will be created in the future. These are the steps required to make your things secure and help create the Internet of Secure Things. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe June 2015 21


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