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A Four-Step Guide to Security Assurance for IoT Devices


INTRODUCTION:

Powered by the forces of the cloud, connected endpoints, wireless technologies, and big data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) evolution is forming a “perfect storm” for software engineering teams. Vendors are racing to claim a piece of the predicted 19 trillion dollar IoT market, made up of more than 50 billion IoT devices spanning nearly all markets – automotive, energy/utilities, home appliance, consumer electronics, medical, education, manufacturing, and more. This new landscape for embedded devices means increased connectivity and confidential data storage and transmission. Current manufacturers are still developing products using old and entrenched supply chain, engineering, and quality assurance processes that weren’t designed for the complexities of today’s highly-connected “smart” devices. Engineering teams are utilizing a progressively diverse set of suppliers and relying on 3rd party software to save while trying to satisfy the business and market thirst for IoT demands. 

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So how do we evolve device software processes to better protect our next-generation IoT devices?  First, it starts with a sound plan that includes next-generation software assurance and a “security-first” methodology. Teams need to rethink how they deliver software quickly – with security, safety, and quality in mind from design to deployment. IoT systems are complex and dynamic, as are the adverseries attempting to compromise the system (B. Zorn et. al.)  However, “rethinking” should not be “restarting.”  To do this successfully, teams should leverage the best tools available that help them analyze the software they are developing, looking for problems that IoT presents – including both in-house source and 3rd-party binary code. The number of IoT device connections is growing exponentially, which is both an opportunity and a challenge, with the number of connections doubling every 4-5 years.

IoT device connection growth over time by device type. Source: http://enterprise-iot.org

IoT device connection growth over time by device type. Source: http://enterprise-iot.org

 

A four-step quality assurance guide will create better security in IoT devices:

 

  1. Design with a “security-first” philosophy. For connected devices in the IoT universe, security must be a prime consideration during all stages of development. The smart development team builds security requirements, development, and testing into the schedule and budget. Despite the potential unknowns and risks with device security, automated software tools are a significant boon to security assurance. 
  2. A system-wide threat assessment and analysis. Your device is part of a larger IoT infrastructure, and understanding the potential security issues at a system level are critical. A threat assessment provides the known and theoretical attack vectors to your device. This is essential for all IoT systems.
  3. Leverage automated tools as much as possible. Security adds additional burdens to development teams and is often outside the realm of their expertise. Source code static analysis, for example, can find defects and security threats that traditional manual and automated techniques miss. Static analysis is now an essential component in the security assurance toolset.
  4. Use binary analysis to ensure the quality and security of third party code. Reliance on third-party software is growing in embedded development and using software of unknown quality and security is risky. Binary static analysis (and a combination of source and binary analysis) provides an automated technique for analyzing third-party software, ensuring it meets the system’s quality and security standards.

A four step security and quality assurance process for IoT devices

A four-step security and quality assurance process for IoT devices

 

This is the first in a series of blogs that go into more detail on this four step process. Stay tuned!



CONCLUSION:

Manufacturers must carefully evaluate the security threats, and level of exposure of IoT devices, implementing all of the necessary design checks and countermeasures to respond to an accelerating set of menaces.  GrammaTech was founded 26 years ago, with a firmly-grounded purpose to help organizations develop tomorrow’s software.  Given the ever-increasing dependence of software in today’s connected world, our experts are focusing on solving the most challenging software issues through a thorough portfolio of software and security assurance solutions.

IoT is here, and it is our responsibility to ensure our software is ready for it.