The Future of Secure Embedded Computing - Part 2  

Keeping connected infrastructures healthy and secure in the physical world

If ever a superhero was needed, it’s now: One with ‘X-ray vision’ and extra sensory perception that intuitively identifies imminent danger and is always there to save the day. But enough of the Science Fiction, we’re talking here about the reality of increased threats to IT and OT. Namely those posed by Edge Computing and its growing ‘empire’ of hyper-connected embedded computer systems. 

Apart from greater potential for plant, equipment and localized systems failure, there is the general health and safety of corporate IT systems at stake - at increased risk from hacks and viruses entering through the ‘back-door’ via infected or cloned Edge devices. At best inconvenient, at worst total DISASTER; dependent on the scale of the problem, how badly it’s infected your corporate systems, and what’s malfunctioning or going offline. 

 

In the new IoT Edge paradigm, an organisation and its IT department’s reputation is only going to be as secure as the weakest link in the chain. 

This reality is already causing headaches for a growing number of IT professionals. But it’s just the beginning. Sooner or later, ever expanding Edge networks will mean innumerable devices residing somehow inside the corporate firewall. Just a few may be relatively easy to keep track of but many will be so deeply embedded they will be under the radar and physically exposed to abuse.

 

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. 

Holistic, continuous, real-time monitoring of all embedded computing devices, wherever they’re located, is the answer to the problem. Such a data-driven approach can deliver the intelligence and ‘X-ray vision’ IT now so desperately needs - for proactively maintaining, updating and securing all embedded devices from logical or physical attack. But to do this effectively will require a new set of sophisticated device management tools which are easy to centrally administer by IT, allowing rapid implementation across multiple devices as and when necessary. 

 

Essentially, we need a way of turning classical embedded computers into secured servers - embedding firewall / router functions that can be remotely managed, thereby keeping IT in control and not having to reinvent the wheel every time the OT guys want approval to add or change device software on the Edge network. Ultimately, both ‘camps’ have the dual challenge and responsibility for effectively securing smart ‘things’ through more efficient procurement, deployment,  monitoring and maintenance.

 

Kontron already knows there’s a growing need for much more secure embedded computing.

We understand IT professionals need to keep full control without becoming overburdened, therefore remaining totally responsive to OT’s requirements in the interests of maximizing overall business agility and competitive edge. 

 

This means ensuring operational applications can run securely inside virtual machines, the only way to offer payload insulation and consolidation. Therefore, the virtual machines only connect through generic network connections, protected by the embedded firewall and router layer. The complexity of multi-network management and low level hardware code will also need to be handled by the firmware itself, independently of the operational payloads. This way, the embedded software can stay simple. 

 

Here’s the good news...in just a few weeks Kontron will launch a brand new solution designed to address the security needs of modern Edge connected infrastructures

Our ‘superhero’ will ensure a trusted computing environment, making it seem like the old days when everything you managed was made of metal! It will be a platform providing the glue for joining together the physical and virtual worlds: hardware enforced secure firmware and a remote management console which neatly combines with Kontron embedded computers, making them easy to monitor, manage, maintain and update – all from a single on-premise platform. 

 

Watch this space for more news… meanwhile, as embedded IoT devices continue to spread out there on the Edge, how confident are you that corporate IT can remain safe from threat of cyber attack? 

 

For more information on Kontron’s Secure Embedded Computing Solutions visit https://www.kontron.com/products/solutions/security/sec-line.html​

 

 

 

 

 

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