Embedded Systems Software Security

Embedded Systems Software Security

Embedded Systems

cryptlib’s high level of portability and configurability makes it ideal for use in an embedded system with limited resources or specialised requirements.

The code is fully independent of any underlying storage or I/O mechanisms. It works just as easily with abstractions like named memory segments in flash memory as it does with standard key files on disk.  It has been deployed without any conventional I/O capabilities or dynamic memory allocation facilities, with proprietary operating system architectures and services including ATMs, printers, web-enabled devices, POS systems, embedded device controllers, and similar environments, and even in devices with no operating system at all. cryptlib runs on the bare metal.

Because cryptlib functions identically across all supported environments, it’s possible to perform application development in a fully-featured environment such as Windows or Unix and when the application is complete and tested, move it to the embedded security system.  This flexibility greatly reduces the amount of time that needs to be spent with embedded system debuggers or in-circuit emulators since most of the development and code testing can be done on the host system of choice. See the Software Security FAQ for more details.

What are Embedded Systems?

Small computers that are part of a larger system, device, or equipment are known as an embedded system. This consists of both hardware and software and serves to operate the device or equipment and allow the user to interact with it. They usually just have one or a few things that they can complete. Embedded systems include the following:

  • Systems for central heating, air conditioning and heat pumps
  • Vehicle engine management systems
  • GPS navigation systems
  • SCADA systems are used in industry and utility management.

Depending on the purpose of the embedded system, they use input devices like sensors and switches to produce output, such as sounding warning buzzers and turning on lights. This is a function of most Scada systems, and Scada cyber security products such as cryptlib address security issues.

Embedded devices are typically not programmable by the user; instead, the manufacturer does the programming ahead of time. However, upgrading the software on an embedded device is frequently possible.

Embedded systems have advantages over general-purpose computers in the following ways:

  • Because they have fewer functionalities, they are less expensive to develop and produce.
  • They typically require less power. Some devices are powered by batteries.
  • They don’t require a lot of processing power. They can be manufactured using less expensive, less powerful processors.

Embedded System Security

Embedded systems security is a branch of cybersecurity concerned with preventing unauthorized access to and usage of embedded systems. Security protocols for embedded systems protect a system from all sorts of harmful behavior.

What exactly is an embedded system in the context of cyber security?

Embedded system security is a proactive strategy to safeguarding software operating on embedded devices from attack. An embedded system is a hardware component that can be programmed and has a minimum operating system and software. Embedded systems are created to carry out a certain function or functions.

Embedded system security challenges

A flaw in embedded system security allows hackers to get access to sensitive information, utilize an embedded system as a platform for future attacks, and even cause physical damage to devices that could lead to human harm.

Memory Buffer Issues

Memory buffer issues occur when software can read or write to areas outside the memory buffer’s bounds.

Control of Access

This vulnerability refers to any flaw in the administration of permissions, privileges, or other security aspects.

Information Exposure

The purposeful or unintentional publication of information that is not explicitly allowed is referred to as information exposure.

Incorrect Input Validation

Improper input validation refers to receiving inaccurate or missing information from anything that could potentially damage the control flow or data flow of a program.

Inadequate Access Control

Improper access control occurs when software does not restrict, or incorrectly restricts, unauthorized actor access to a resource.

Errors in Resource Management

This sort of vulnerability refers to a wide range of difficulties, such as incorrect system resource management, resource locking, and an insufficient resource pool.


This is a catch-all vulnerability that can include vulnerabilities with password management, API contract handling, and code generation.

Injection of Code

Code injections have an impact on interpreted systems like PHP.

Cryptographic Problems

Cryptographic issues are flaws in the application of cryptography. This type of vulnerability is frequently caused by missing encryption of sensitive data, insufficient encryption strength, and other factors.

Numeric Errors

Wrap around mistakes, poor array index validation, integer overflow, erroneous byte ordering, and other difficulties are all examples of numerical errors. Numeric errors are widespread in arithmetic calculations and data overflow from an external source.

Can embedded systems be compromised?

Hackers have accessed embedded systems in order to spy on them, gain control of them, or just deactivate them. Internet and wireless access points, IP cameras, security systems, pacemakers, drones, and industrial control systems all contain embedded systems. The common attack areas are:

Attacks utilizing software

Software-based attacks go for the system’s brains — the application that manages the devices. A successful software attack allows a hacker to access data or take control of an embedded system.

The most common attack vector is searching for weaknesses in software architecture and code because such an assault may be carried out from afar. Furthermore, a software-based attack does not necessitate specific understanding from hackers, as they can utilize standard tactics such as malware deployment and brute-forcing.

Attacks on networks

This sort of attack targets network infrastructure flaws and can be carried out remotely. A bad actor can use these flaws to monitor for, capture, and manipulate traffic sent by your embedded systems.

Contact the cryptlib team about embedded systems security.

Last Updated on Monday, November 27, 2023 by Shayne Jones

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