Is your Firmware secured? - It's time to shield the IoT Cyber Surveillance with Firmware Analysis

Is your Firmware secured? - It's time to shield the IoT Cyber Surveillance with Firmware Analysis

November 30, 2018
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Jason Franscisco

Securing the Security is itself the Survival in the Present Digital Era

In the present Digital era of computing and connecting the daily life routine to numerous electronic and electrical devices is a matter of trust. In such case, winning the certitude and hearts of the clients is the success mantra of every business organization irrespective of the scope and thrust of the services and products they deliver.

When it comes to embedded systems security, each and every business perspective of the respective organisation serves as a key aspect to console. The skill lies in smartly armouring the website irrespective of the high cyber leakage threats and attacks. Of all the security providing approaches and algorithms, Firmware Analysis of embedded system is one among the ocean and its techniques are striving hard to improvise the security terms.

What is a Firmware Analysis?

A firmware can be termed as an amalgam of both software and hardware mounted on to a system's non-volatile memory. It is a known fact that how vulnerable software can be without the proper security mechanisms amended into it. The study of an entire system's specifications, performance under experimented inputs is coined as analysis.

In order to find the deviations in the security system of any software, a firmware analysis is mainly classified into two types each having a peculiar approach of its own.

  • Static Analysis:
  • Dynamic Analysis:

Static Analysis:

The static analysis of any firmware is done in the initial stages as soon as the software program is ready to encounter the threats.

  • Source code review is carried for the entire code to check for bugs and errors.
  • All the associated link libraries, functions, firmware libraries are investigated to know whether they are properly embedded or not.
  • Each and every piece of code is checked for any exemptions or vulnerabilities.
  • Parsing the firmware and cross checking the db files
  • Configuration files and certificates are verified
  • File extensions and file mounts are reviewed

Dynamic Analysis:

All the inputs received from the static analysis helps us to carry out the dynamic analysis in a systematic way. We can find the following aspects during the dynamic analysis:

  • Emulating the developed software
  • Checking for Binary vulnerabilities
  • Experimenting how the entire system responds to a failure or exemption.
  • Reverse engineering is carried out.
  • Investigating whether the updates are reflected or not.
  • A digital signature check is also performed,
  • Architecture modulation is also reviewed.

Importance of Firmware Analysis:

IoT has its feathers stretched colourfully towards embedded systems in a more delightful manner. Hence one can expect high chances of cyber attacks, leakages, and vulnerabilities without any doubt. A firmware image has to be deeply understood and evaluated before launching it. Deep analysis and studying the weak points of our firmware, directly, is a process of adding the immunity to the entire software system.

Hence there is a dire need for a thorough Firmware Analysis to understand the firmware aspects. A professional and perfect firmware analysis helps us to identify:

  1. Vulnerabilities and deviations in the embedded device or product
  2. Avoiding the software code to be copied or leaked
  3. Security auditing
  4. Strengthening the resistance and immunity of the device
  5. Creating the alternate resources.
  6. Strategising the process of Reverse engineering

On this account, a deep firmware analysis of embedded software helps the organisation in a many ways to address the ongoing security threats and improve the performance.

Impact of an Early Firmware Analysis:

Of course you will be benefitted with the numerous blessings when you opt for an early firmware analysis such as:

  • Prior Identification of all the configuration files, functions, and binary checks will help the development team to correct an update the system as per the requirement without any hassle.
  • The investment of time and cost will also be controlled in early identification of the vulnerabilities.
  • The reason for the errors and exemptions can be examined in a comfort way
  • The new or unidentified embedded systems can be perfectly studied
  • There is a high scope of performance improvement due to the early identification of deviations.
  • The amplitude of rewriting the code and adding the updates will be more easier
  • Emulation of the device can be studied in different environments

The soon you find the faults; the sooner will be your improvement. So it is always advisable to practice the early firmware analysis to conquer the success in Iot security platforms.

What happens when you Ignore the Firmware Analysis?

An embedded product without a quality check is highly dangerous in the digital market. It impacts and hinders the use of the respective product and will loose its demand within no time in the market. In case of firmware analysis ignorance, your system may attract:

  • Tampering of Data
  • Replication of Data
  • Spoofing the identity
  • Revealing the consoled information
  • Service denials and deviations
  • Unidentified logins
  • Restricting the privileges
  • Un authenticated updates
  • Poor quality of images
  • Deviating the boot procedures
  • Redirecting the links

As we are already aware of the threats of vulnerability exposure to embedded systems and devices, one has to be on toes when coming to the security wing. So , importance must be given to firmware analysis without any question of doubt to endure the best software practicing benefits.

Steps to identify your Perfect Architecture that can be implanted for IoT security:

  1. Identify the requirements
  2. Select the design
  3. Balance the time and Cost
  4. Design a testing procedure
  5. Design a Change log plan

Types of Firmware Architectures which support IoT security:

There are many different architectural models available to perform the Iot security firmware analysis of embedded systems. Of all them, the following two architectures are listed in the top row with high endurance.

Platform Security Architecture (PSA):

The PSA is a cluster of threat models, specifications, security analysis, and reference implementation.

PSA architecture is widely applicable to almost all the connected devices with a reasonable economic approach. The three main components of PSA architecture are:

  • Analyse
  • Architect
  • Implement

SDN Based Architecture:

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is an emerging technology mainly implemented to increase the functionality of the network by minimizing the costs, reducing hardware complexity and enabling innovative research.

This architecture mainly comprises of three layers namely:

  • An Infrastructure Layer (switches, routers, virtual switches, wireless point)
  • A Controller Layer (Floodlight, NOX, MUL, Open daylight)
  • An Application Layer (Access control, traffic/security monitoring).

SDN has a special and unique feature which can enhance the security strength by guiding the security policy points to all the network devices via protocols and controllers.

The embedded systems are getting embedded into our daily needs through Iot Gateways in a lightning speed. Hence it is the high time to shed the limelight on power-packing the security stamina and empowering the emerging technologies.

Credit: Security Research Team

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For over 16 years, leading companies in Telecom, Cybersecurity, Healthcare, Banking, New Media and more have come to rely on Loginsoft as a trusted resource for technology talent. Whether Onsite, Offsite, or Offshore, we deliver.

Loginsoft is a leading Cybersecurity services company providing Security Advisory Research to generate metadata for vulnerabilities in Open source components, Discovering ZeroDay Vulnerabilities, Developing Vulnerability Detection signatures using MITRE OVAL Language.

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