Security Must be Built In…Or Else

By AJ Shipley

AJ Shipley Blog Photo

Security cannot be bolted on, it must be built in.  This statement proves to be especially true when considering the recent hack of the New York Times, where during a four-month long cyberattack by Chinese hackers, the company's antivirus system from Symantec missed 44 of the 45 pieces of malware installed by attackers on the network.  Cases like this highlight the danger of relying on a single security product to keep you safe from hackers.  According to a written statement by Symantec, "Advanced attacks like the ones the New York Times described underscore how important it is for companies, countries and consumers to make sure they are using the full capability of security solutions. Antivirus software alone is not enough." 

As evidenced with incidents like this, products need to be developed that combine multiple layers of security to keep the “bad guys” out of customer systems, and to also minimize the danger and exposure to device resources and data if they do get in. 

Products like the Wind River Intelligent Device Platform (IDP), a software platform built for developing next-generation smart systems, are a perfect example of what I mean by building security into the product. IDP provides multiple layers of security that are all highly configurable and customizable.  Security policies are developed that match the specific deployment scenario with the correct level of access control and integrity monitoring, providing a true architectural, defense in depth approach to securing embedded devices and machine-to-machine applications. 

Specifically, IDP includes Secure Remote Management (SRM), which ensures the integrity of the system with boot time security using Trusted Platform Modules (TPM) and Trusted Software Stacks (TSS).  Advanced security features like address space layout randomization (ASLR) and non-executable memory pages make it exceedingly difficult to penetrate IDP.  Run time security and integrity is monitored with the built in integrity measurement architecture which immediately detects when system files have been tampered with.  SRM provides a robust access control infrastructure for limiting access to system resources based on the privilege levels of specific users or groups of users ensuring that if a bad guy gets in they can’t access any of the critical resources or information.  Finally, secure package management remotely deployed over secure communication channels ensure that software updates are intact and trusted prior to installation. 

Anti-malware products, like the one deployed at the New York Times, are an important component of an overall security strategy, but are nowhere near sufficient to protect systems, resources, and information from the advanced persistent threats that are on the rise.  We can no longer assume that we can successfully keep the bad guys out of our systems.  A good security strategy must first understand the multiple attack vectors and then deploy solutions that provide multiple layers of defense to deter, detect, and defend our critical resources. 

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