Embedded System Security: A Necessity

Embedded System Security: A Necessity

By Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence Thought Articles

The global embedded security market is estimated to reach a market size of US$5,633 billion by the end of 2026. Embedded systems are a complex combination of computer memory, a computer processor, and input/ output devices, which are embedded into parts of electrical, electronic hardware, and mechanical devices. Most of the embedded systems are often based on microcontrollers, however, microprocessors are also common, particularly in complex systems. Since these systems are task-specific, engineers can optimize the technology to reduce the size, increase reliability, better performance efficiency, and reduce the cost of the product. Further, mass production of chips helps in driving benefit from economies of scale.

embedded security market

The development of microprocessors and microcontrollers was initiated by the invention of MOS integrated circuits in the early 1960s. the inculcation of MOS chips in computers began with the recognition of the ability of several MOS LIS chips to contain complete computer processor systems. Four-Phase system AL1, in 1969, and Garrett AiResearch MP944, in 1970, were World’s first multi-chip microprocessors developed by MOS LSI chips. Also, Intel 404 was World’s first single-chip processor, launched in 1971.

However, these embedded systems are vulnerable to attacks and breaches. These systems store crucial information, which may result in exploitation if it falls into the wrong hand. Moreover, a hacker can monitor the device of the users if he/ she is able to successfully hack the embedded system. Hence, the security of embedded systems becomes important, resulting in driving the market growth.

Critical Challenges Faced by Embedded Systems Security

While technological advancement is making the embedded systems more efficient, including smaller size and ability to increase their functionality, the security of embedded systems is often neglected. The assumption of no threat to embedded devices from cyberattacks and hacking along with the blind trust that encryption and authentication provide enough security, has further threatened the embedded systems. Such assumption led to a breach in the TJX credit card system, resulting in compromising 94 million credit and debit card numbers, over a period of 18 months. On investigation, the insecure wireless network connection was found to be the prime reason facilitating this bleach. Another example is Rebug, which is a custom firmware for Sony PlayStation, which got access to the developer-only network, allowing illegal operations.

Above these assumptions, embedded systems are not regularly updated for security. Post-installation. Embedded devices are not updated for security, for years. Furthermore, these systems lack the automated capability to allow the firmware update. Also, these devices are vulnerable to attack replication. Since embedded devices are produced in mass, having the same design and built, a single device hack will give access to all other devices produced in the lot. The major threat faced by embedded system security is from cyber-attack.  Embedded devices are installed in many crucial devices such as communication systems. Cyber-attacks can result in an interruption in functioning, having catastrophic consequences. These embedded devices have a longer life, that may outspan the life of the device they are installed in. While firewalls can save the manufacturing firm from enterprise-specific threats, but security against industrial protocol attacks is a major concern. Also, since embedded devices are manufactured outside enterprise security premises, these may be directly connected to the internet, without any security layers. Such practices/ manufacturing process endangers the data of the device, in which these embedded systems are used, hence requiring the need for strong security systems to deal with them. These security concerns are a major reason for the non-adoption of IoT, as per IoT industry leaders. Hence the market size of embedded security systems is anticipated to grow for securer means.

Cyber-Attack: A Major Threat to Economies

Rising cybercrime concerns the governments around the world, as cyber-attacks and cybercrime result in robust losses for the economy. A report by McAfee Corp., published in the year 2014, states that global economic loss caused by cybercrime was worth US $445 billion. It includes a US $1,5 billion loss owing to online debit and credit card fraud, in the US. Another study, conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), observes that around 1 percent of global GDP, roughly accounting for around the US $600 billion, was lost due to cybercrime, in the year ending 2018. Cybercrime also severely affects the attacked companies, resulting in a huge loss caused due to loss of brand name, reduction in customer base, penalties, and other legal fees.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Hold a Significant Share of the Market

As per the report, the ICT segment is anticipated to hold a significant share of the embedded security market. the key reason behind ICT’s major role is the sensitivity of data and information in the industry. The Automotive sector will also hold a noteworthy share in the market with an increasing number of connected cars. Moreover, strict regulation such as the Security and Privacy in Your (SPY) Car Act unfolds new opportunities in the market. the SPY Act which was passed by US legislation in 2015, mandates the installation of software systems to safeguard the vehicle from hacking. Consumer Electronics, manufacture, and healthcare sectors are also predicted to grow at a significant rate owing to rising technological adoption in the sectors. Companies, in the security industry, are developing better systems to ensure the security of embedded systems. IKV, for instance, launched software-based security systems that use Intrinsic ID’s BroadKey, specially designed for IoT security solutions. This updated security system enables manufacturers to secure their devices using a unique identity, which is generated internally.

The North American Region of Us and Canada Is Estimated to Dominate the Market

The reports predict that the North American region will keep on growing at a significant rate in the forecasted period. The prime reason for this steady growth is favorable government regulation along with the region's start-of-art infrastructure, especially in the US. In 2019, the state government allotted us$15 billion for developing cyber-attack prevention and other cyber threat prevention activities. The US$32.4 million was sanctioned for the research and development of advanced security systems for airports and airways. The Canadian government budgeted US$145 million to safeguard from cyber-attacks, which will further increase the market for embedded security systems.

The Asia Pacific region will grow at a notable rate owing to rising cybercrime in the region. China and India are the first and third most cybercrime episodes countries in the world. Further, rising internet penetration in the region increases threats of cybercrime along with various advantages.