As embedded systems continue to contain more and more features, sometimes security is overlooked. Well, maybe not completely overlooked. Generally, developers believe that passwords and encrypted protocols (SSH or SSL) are enough to keep cybercriminals at bay – but that’s not always the case.

All kinds of devices, from toasters to credit cards, face cyberattacks. And these attacks are extremely expensive to fix.

Embedded Systems Need Security

Developers may think that nobody cares about embedded systems, but bad actors certainly pay attention. For example, a printer may seem unimportant, but when hackers gain access to sensitive documents that reside there, the printer suddenly becomes very important. 

It’s also true that many embedded systems are built with the same design and structure. Consequently, if a hacker is able to hack a toaster, they already know how to gain access to your credit cards.

That said, developers of embedded systems are in need of cybersecurity skills to ensure systems cannot be easily hacked. Since a data breach can affect both internal and external customers, developers of embedded systems who have validated cybersecurity skills are more likely to get a job and create successful projects. What cybersecurity skills do you need?

5 Essential Cybersecurity Skills for Embedded Developers

#1 Risk Assessment

Before developing a security strategy, assessing possible risk is key. A developer should take inventory of any possible risk and evaluate if each risk is applicable to the embedded system.

When risks are incorrectly assessed, a developer could waste valuable time and effort on protecting the systems from non-existent threats. On the other hand, overlooking real threats that the organization is facing may result in a data breach.

Therefore, a developer should be interested in learning risk assessment. Learning how to detect real threats will ultimately save time and effort and ensure a positive outcome.

#2 Intrusion Detection

A developer should understand how intrusions can happen in order to build in the prevention mechanisms in the embedded system that they are developing. If done right, a system will know when it is experiencing an intrusion and will send an alert that something is wrong.

Along with intrusion detection, there is a possibility of intrusion prevention. Intrusion prevention is more proactive because it does not only notify the team but can eliminate the problem on its own.

#3 Malware Analysis and Reversing

Malicious software, or malware, includes any program that can harm a computer or system. Usually, intrusions take place with the help of malware. As technology continues to develop, so does malware.

Today, some but not all malicious software has the same architecture as legitimate software. To combat malware, developers should learn about all types of malware so they can analyze them and reverse the damage.

#4 Ethical Hacking

Hacking is a useful skill for every cybersecurity expert but it is essential for developers of embedded systems. As they say, in order to win a hacker, you have to think like a hacker.

If developers know how hacking works, the instruments hackers use (such as new devices or VPN) and what actions to take, they will be able to evaluate the weaknesses of different malware. That knowledge will help them identify the threat and determine how to eliminate it.

#5 Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning is necessary for those who are interested in cybersecurity. You see, technology develops quickly and hackers are constantly coming up with new types of malware. Consequently, developers have to learn about a new threat in order to be prepared to defeat it.

Protecting Embedded Systems

While some developers believe that no one is interested in attacking an embedded system, hackers are just waiting for you to let your guard down. Protecting embedded systems requires an embedded developer to have the essential cybersecurity skills to make the system secure and save it from data breaches.

Risk assessment, intrusion detection, malware analysis and revision, hacking, and the desire to keep learning are the five skills that will allow a developer to create a reliable security strategy while saving a company’s money and time.

These cybersecurity skills take some time to learn, but always pay off.

CompTIA Security+ covers the cybersecurity skills needed for embedded development. Download the exam objectives and check out the full suite of learning solutions to get started.

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