Travancore Analytics

Navigating Embedded System Security Risks in the Cloud

January 24th, 2024

Category: embedded systems

No Comments

Posted by: Team TA

Blog 1

Cloud development has emerged as a modern alternative to traditional enterprise computing setups for delivering mobile and content services. In the IT industry, it has become the norm to migrate to the cloud to achieve greater efficiency, flexibility, and rapid innovation. Here we aim to thoroughly explore and address the embedded system security risks in the cloud environment, providing insights and proactive strategies to enhance overall system resilience.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), it is projected that collective spending on the cloud, including services, essential hardware, software components, and professional expertise, will exceed $1.3 trillion by 2025.

Cloud computing has a lot of advantages, but it also comes with some security risks, particularly when it comes to protecting data. Businesses that are currently using cloud solutions or considering moving to the cloud are especially concerned about cloud security risks.

Why are embedded systems vulnerable in the cloud?

  • Limited Resources

Embedded systems often have lower processor, memory, and storage capacities than traditional computing systems. Due to this, these devices have difficulty implementing resource-intensive security procedures found in more robust systems. 

  • Real-time Constraints

Embedded systems can face more problems in the cloud because of real-time constraints. Since cloud settings are unpredictable due to their inherent latency and shared resources, embedded systems’ performance may suffer. Cloud services can also experience interruptions due to hardware failures, software bugs, or network issues, posing a significant risk to real-time systems that require continuous operation.

  • Increased Attack Surface

The interconnectivity of cloud environments exposes embedded systems to a broader range of potential threats. Unlike standalone setups, the cloud introduces more entry points for malicious actors, including vulnerabilities in the cloud infrastructure or within the embedded systems themselves. Exploiting these entry points becomes easier, heightening the risk of unauthorized access and potentially compromising real-time operations.

  • Legacy Systems

Linking legacy systems with cloud technology introduces security risks primarily due to the potential presence of outdated hardware and software components. These legacy systems, designed in a different technological era, might lack modern security features, making them more susceptible to cyber threats. 

  • Regular Data Transmissions

Data transmission occurs regularly between embedded systems and cloud infrastructure during integration. However, this poses security risks as the transmitted data is susceptible to interception, tampering, or unauthorized access.

Common Risks and Security Threats

Data Breaches

IBM’s survey found that, on a global scale, the typical cost of a data breach in 2023 was around $4.45 million. This represents a 15% increase over the past three years. Moreover, 51% of businesses are planning to increase their spending on security measures including investing in technologies for detecting and responding to threats, providing training for employees, and developing and testing plans for incident response.

Data breaches in cloud computing are critical due to the vast volume of stored data and shared infrastructure. Compromised data from one user can impact others, and diverse services create potential entry points for attackers. Remote access adds challenges in securing data from anywhere.

Lack of Visibility and Control

As businesses transition to the cloud, a common challenge arises- the loss of visibility and control over devices and data. Cloud platforms can hide critical operational details, such as resource management and monitoring, unlike on-premises solutions. Users may also have limited access to the security measures implemented by the cloud service provider, making it challenging to assess and ensure the infrastructure’s security.

Insecure Interfaces and APIs

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) play a crucial role in enabling communication between different cloud services and applications. APIs in your apps can allow internal or external access. However, external-facing APIs can pose security risks. If these APIs are insecure, cybercriminals may get unauthorized access, leading to data theft. An example is the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Scandal, where an insecure external API gave unauthorized access to user data.

Data Loss and Inadequate Data Removal

Data stored in the cloud is susceptible to accidental deletion, cyberattacks, hardware failures, or inadequate backups. Losing crucial data can cripple businesses, causing financial losses, legal issues, and damaged reputations. Without proper backup and recovery mechanisms, critical data may be permanently lost.

It’s not uncommon for residual data to remain on cloud servers after data deletion attempts. This lingering data poses a danger because perpetrators can access and abuse it. Standard data deletion policies and procedures must be developed and implemented by organizations to ensure that data is removed completely. 

Unauthorized Access

While the cloud enhances data accessibility, it also increases the threat of unauthorized access through weak authentication, stolen credentials, or insider risks. A Cloud Security Spotlight Report revealed that 53% of surveyed organizations identify improper access controls and employee credential misuse as the biggest threat to cloud security. Notably, 96% of surveyed organizations use some or all cloud applications, indicating the importance of the cloud in modern business.

Implementing Embedded System Security Strategies 

1. Secure Coding Practices

Adhering to security coding standards helps developers make software in embedded systems more secure. They do this by following practices like proper error handling, input validation, and avoiding common coding mistakes like buffer overflows and memory leaks. When security is integrated early in system development, it reduces the risk of malicious actors taking advantage of vulnerabilities.

2. Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits systematically identify vulnerabilities, assess compliance with standards, and ensure early detection of potential threats. During audits, access controls, data handling practices, and encryption protocols are scrutinized. They also contribute to continuous improvement, testing incident response plans, and providing third-party validation, establishing a proactive and resilient defense against evolving cyber threats in embedded systems within the cloud.

3. Privileged Access Management (PAM)

Implementing PAM ensures that only authorized users have elevated privileges, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access. By enforcing least privilege principles and monitoring privileged activities, PAM enhances overall security, reducing the potential for exploitation.

4. Implement Robust Encryption

Employ strong encryption protocols to safeguard data transmitted between embedded systems and the cloud. It ensures that the data remains secure, even if intercepted. For securing data both at rest and in transit, it’s advisable to employ widely accepted protocols and algorithms like AES for data at rest and TLS for data in transit. Maintaining strict oversight of encryption keys is equally crucial, necessitating secure storage and robust management practices within organizations.

5. Network Segmentation

Network segmentation enhances security for embedded systems in the cloud by isolating them from critical infrastructure. This containment strategy limits the potential impact of security breaches, preventing lateral movement within the network. In the event of a compromise, segmentation ensures that the reach of an attacker is confined, minimizing the scope of the security incident.

6. Update Legacy Systems

Regular updates of legacy systems ensure the integration of the latest security patches and features, addressing vulnerabilities inherent in outdated software or hardware. By modernizing legacy components, organizations improve the overall security of their embedded systems, aligning them with contemporary standards and minimizing the risk of exploitation in cloud environments.

7. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA mitigates the risk of unauthorized system access, safeguarding embedded systems from potential breaches and effectively defending against cyber threats in cloud environments. This additional layer of protection prevents unauthorized access even if one factor is compromised. For example, a compromised password alone won’t grant access to an embedded medical device’s cloud interface, ensuring sensitive patient data remains secure.

8. Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

By acting as proactive defenses, firewalls monitor and control network traffic, preventing unauthorized access and potential cyber threats. IDS, on the other hand, identifies and alerts suspicious activities, helping detect and mitigate potential security breaches. Together, these technologies create a robust security perimeter, enhancing the overall resilience of embedded systems in cloud environments and preventing unauthorized access and malicious activities.

9. Vendor Security Assessments

Conduct thorough security assessments of cloud service providers and embedded system vendors. Ensure they adhere to industry standards and have robust security measures in place to protect against potential threats.

10. Data Backups

Regularly backup critical data stored in the cloud and embedded systems. This ensures that, in the event of a security incident, data can be restored, minimizing the impact on operations. For example, if a cloud-connected industrial control system experiences a cyberattack, having recent backups allows for a swift recovery, preventing operational disruptions.

Ensuring Cloud Security: A Priority


Prioritizing cloud security is not just a suggestion; it is a critical need in today’s digital economy. 

As businesses increasingly shift to cloud infrastructures, there is a need for a more serious approach to security. The consequences of neglecting cloud security are significant, ranging from data breaches to operational disruptions. Embracing robust security measures is not just a best practice; it is an essential safeguard to protect sensitive information, maintain trust, and ensure the resilience of organizations in the face of evolving cyber threats. 

Feel free to reach out to us, a leading cloud development services company, to ensure the utmost security of your embedded systems in the cloud.

Leave a Reply

Please select a valid state.
Please select a valid state.
Please select a valid state.