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What Is Embedded Software and How Do You Keep It Secure?

What Is Embedded Software and How Do You Keep It Secure?

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From smart cars to digital homes, we are continually living our lives on the Internet of Things (IoT). But what connects your fitness tracker to the same smartphone that controls your home’s surround sound?  

Embedded software is the unsung hero of our daily lives, and the more we rely on embedded systems, the more vulnerable we are to data breaches every day. 

In this article, we will review what embedded software is, why embedded software security is important, and how to train your developers on embedded software security. 


What is Embedded Software? 

Embedded software, sometimes called embedded systems, is specifically created to run non-computer devices. This includes things like cars, household appliances, medical equipment, and fitness trackers. Embedded software is usually written in a low-level programming language, such as C or C++, to make it highly efficient with memory and processing power.  

As the number of embedded systems in the world continues to rise, so does the demand for embedded software. However, with this growing complexity comes an increased risk of security breaches and attacks. 


Why is Embedded Software Security Important? 

The control of critical infrastructure relies heavily on embedded systems, which play a vital role in our daily lives. Securing the software becomes increasingly essential as embedded systems become more connected to the internet. A breach in an embedded system could result in severe consequences, such as data loss, financial loss, or even physical harm.  

For example, a cyberattack on an embedded system in a car could cause it to crash or allow an attacker to take over and control the vehicle remotely. Or an attack on an embedded system in a medical device could cause it to malfunction and result in severe injuries.  

With the integration of more features and functionalities, consumer products are becoming more complex, increasing the complexity of the embedded systems powering these products. Unfortunately, this complexity provides more opportunities for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities and potentially cause harm. 


FDA Regulations on Embedded Software for Medical Devices 

Starting October 1st, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will no longer accept medical devices and related systems due to cybersecurity issues. To ensure the safety of patients, the FDA will enforce new regulations to provide comprehensive information about the cybersecurity of their devices.  

These regulations require manufacturers of medical devices that contain embedded software to: 

  • Develop and implement a risk management process for the software 
  • Use secure development practices when developing the software 
  • Test the software for safety and effectiveness 
  • Document the software development process and the software itself 
  • Label the device with the appropriate information about the software 


Security Training for Embedded Software 

Security Journey’s AppSec Education Platform is an enterprise-class solution that delivers skills-based training for secure application development. 

Our team of experts created comprehensive security training for embedded software. Embedded Development Path includes lessons that teach development teams how to develop secure software such as medical devices, automobiles, domestic appliances, HVAC systems, and fitness trackers. 

This learning path covers a wide range of topics, from an introduction to embedded development security and threat landscape to secure coding standards and techniques and practical guidance on implementing security measures throughout the development lifecycle. 

Some examples of Security Journey’s Embedded Development lessons include: 

  • Embedded Threat Landscape  
  • Fundamentals of Secure Embedded Development 
  • Secure Firmware Development Lifecycle 
  • Secure Coding Standards for Embedded Software 
  • Embedded Security Toolchain 
  • Threat Modeling Embedded Systems 
  • Secure Communications with Embedded Systems 


Is Security Embedded in Your Software Development Lifecycle? 

Embedded security is an important issue that should be taken seriously by all organizations that use or develop embedded systems. If your organization needs to ramp up your embedded software security capabilities, try our training today or contact our team for a personalized tour of our AppSec Education Platform.