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Beyond Patching: Building Inherent Security into IoT and Embedded Devices

What are the challenges of post-deployment patching and how can you implement a security-by-design approach?


Securing IoT: Shift Left Security Approach in a Swiftly Advancing Digital Landscape

In today’s rapidly expanding digital landscape, the Internet of Things (IoT) and embedded devices are becoming ubiquitous, powering everything from smart home appliances to critical infrastructure systems. This proliferation comes with increased security risks though. The CrowdStrike global threat report underscores the limitations of patching and the imperative need for building security from the ground up. A shift left security approach compared to the traditional approach of patching vulnerabilities post-deployment is becoming more critical as adoption of IoT and embedded devices grows. TrustInSoft’s exhaustive analysis can be a game-changer by ensuring the security and quality of code right from the development stage.

Security Beyond Patching

  • Patching Is Not Enough: Reliance on post-deployment patching for IoT and embedded devices is fraught with challenges and often leaves devices vulnerable.
  • Prevention Over Cure: Building security into the development lifecycle of software ensures a robust foundation, mitigating risks before they manifest.
  • TrustInSoft’s Role: Through exhaustive static analysis, TrustInSoft enables developers to identify and rectify vulnerabilities at the source, promoting a security-by-design approach.

Patching is reactive, often leaving a window of vulnerability that can be exploited by attackers. For IoT and embedded devices, this window is not just a gap in time; it’s a chasm, owing to the devices’ widespread deployment, difficulty in updating them, and in some cases, lack of connectivity. The CrowdStrike report illustrates this through specific CVEs (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures), shedding light on vulnerabilities that could have been nipped in the bud with a more proactive approach to code quality and security.

“Unmanaged network appliances — particularly edge gateway devices — remained the most routinely observed initial access vector for exploitation during 2023.”

One of the fundamental challenges with patching is the assumption that all devices can and will be updated in a timely manner. This assumption falls flat in the real world, where numerous devices operate on legacy systems, are in hard-to-reach locations, or simply cannot be taken offline without significant disruption. Furthermore, the complexity and resource constraints of many IoT and embedded devices mean that deploying patches can be a logistical nightmare, fraught with the risk of breaking functionality or introducing new vulnerabilities.

A Security-By-Design Proactive Approach

Enter the concept of security by design—a principle that advocates for the integration of security measures right from the software development phase, rather than as an afterthought. This approach not only ensures that devices are secure by default but also significantly reduces the reliance on patching post-deployment. It’s here that TrustInSoft’s exhaustive static analysis shines, offering a proactive defense mechanism against vulnerabilities.

TrustInSoft’s technology enables developers to conduct thorough abstract interpretation-based static analysis of their code, identifying potential security flaws and undefined behaviors that could lead to vulnerabilities like buffer overflows, uninitialized memory, use after free and integer overflow that are exploited by bad actors. By leveraging mathematical proofs, TrustInSoft guarantees the absence of such flaws, thereby ensuring that the software powering IoT and embedded devices is secure and robust from the get-go. This not only mitigates the risk of future vulnerabilities but also streamlines the development process, saving time and resources that would otherwise be spent on addressing security issues down the line.

Specific CVEs mentioned in the CrowdStrike report (Cisco (CVE-2023-20198), Citrix (CVE-2023-3519, CVE-2023-4966) and F5 (CVE-2023-46747) all serve as stark reminders of what’s at stake. These vulnerabilities, which could have been prevented with a focus on code quality from the outset, underscore the critical nature of adopting a security-by-design philosophy. TrustInSoft facilitates this approach by providing developers with the tools needed to bake security into their products, effectively closing the door on vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

The IoT and embedded device landscape demands a new paradigm in security—one that prioritizes prevention over cure. As we navigate this complex terrain, the partnership between developers and advanced analysis tools like those offered by TrustInSoft becomes paramount. By adopting these tools, developers can ensure that their devices are not just functional and efficient but inherently secure.

Proactive Prevention Extending Past Patching

In conclusion, as we forge ahead into an increasingly connected world, the security of IoT and embedded devices cannot be left to patching alone. The proactive, preventative measures enabled by TrustInSoft’s exhaustive analysis not only helps organizations embrace a security by design mindset, but also ensures that digital infrastructures are resilient, reliable, and, above all, secure.

Discover TrustInSoft Analyzer today to learn how we can help secure your software development lifecycle from the ground up.


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