6 Tips for Hardware Security in 2022Adarsh Rai
What is Hardware Security?
As organizations have become more dependent on technology, the risk of cyberattacks has increased dramatically. There is a significant vulnerability due to the volume of data stored in systems that may be accessed by both internal and external users. Safeguarding against flaws that are encoded into hardware rather than coded into software is the focus of hardware security.
The term “hardware security” may refer to anything from a scanner to a network traffic monitor. Hardware firewalls and proxy servers are two typical examples. Hardware security modules are one less prevalent kind, and they provide cryptographic keys for essential operations including encryption, decryption, and authentication across a wide range of devices. When it comes to mission-critical systems, hardware-based security measures may be more reliable than software-based ones.
Hardware security also encompasses the practice of keeping actual hardware safe from attack. For instance, in machine-to-machine (M2M) and internet of things (IoT) settings, computers and networked, noncompeting devices are the targets of equipment destruction attacks. Whether hardware or software, security is essential in these contexts because it provides communication between several physical components.
Types of Hardware Vulnerabilities
Almost sixty-three percent of businesses reported having at least one data breach last year, credited to a hardware security flaw in their infrastructure. When it comes to security, an organization is only as strong as its weakest hardware device, and every piece of hardware has its own vulnerabilities. Equipment covers elements like firmware, BIOS, motherboards, network cards, wireless cards, hard drives, graphics cards, SoCs, and servers. Because of this, enterprise-level hardware security is crucial but also very challenging. The major risks to business hardware in 2022 are listed below.
When an unauthorized user gains access to hardware and steals information from it, this is known as an eavesdropping assault. It is not necessary for an attacker to maintain a continual connection to the hardware in order to carry out an eavesdropping assault. In the event of a card skimmer implanted inside an ATM or point-of-sale terminal, for instance, the attacker gains periodic access to the device in order to steal a copy of the cardholder’s financial data. An eavesdropping attack may be started by injecting malicious code into a vulnerable device, which then provides the attacker with access to sensitive information and can even be programmed to send the information at regular intervals
Without the knowledge or permission of the device’s owner, threat actors may use backdoors to obtain full control of the system. Hardware backdoors are far more difficult to plug than software ones. As a result, they are vulnerable to being used as entry points by bad actors looking to inject new malware or other dangerous programs.
- False Triggers
In order to interrupt typical system operation, attackers “trigger” or “induce” hardware defects. System-level security may be compromised by fault attacks, which use fault injections specifically designed to gain illegal rights or leak data. Attacks like this may have a domino effect on other devices using the compromised hardware. In order to carry out a successful fault attack, the attacker often doesn’t require in-depth knowledge of the targeted equipment or its specific flaws. However, security teams need a deep comprehension of the attack vector in order to craft effective remedies against fault assaults. Understanding the mechanics of fault injection and propagation for each potential weak spot and fixing them without losing data or disrupting operations may be challenging.
- Incomplete Encryption
It’s becoming more common for business equipment to have an IP connection. It’s important to note that not all of them are connected to a network with the proper encryption protocols in place. Data at rest and in transit encryption is crucial for the safety of operating technological devices on a network. Attackers with network access may snoop on unencrypted data, and stolen devices with their data still intact are a gold mine for hackers.
- Outdated Firmware
Although many businesses advertise themselves as specialists in “smart gadgets,” not all of them can be relied upon to provide top-notch information technology security. For instance, it is possible that local manufacturers of IoT components, such as smart HVAC, linked RFID access, and plant robots, would provide software that has bugs and other security problems. Patch management mistakes might cause more issues and introduce new security holes. Firmware that is regularly updated in tandem with the release of new security updates may aid in the protection of vulnerable hardware environments.
Despite the prevalence of computer hackers, most companies depend on the internet to manage their finances, purchase and keep inventory, execute marketing and public relations campaigns, communicate with consumers, participate in social media, and do other vital tasks. Despite this, prominent IT companies suffer computer intrusions and must be watchful at all times. Small firms may lack the resources required to implement adequate cybersecurity safeguards. As a result, they become easy prey for hackers. Follow the tips listed below to secure your devices and sensitive data.
Reduce your attack surface
Protect company infrastructure from cyber assaults by disconnecting any retired hardware or components, such as debug ports. Make sure to deactivate any additional universal asynchronous receiver-transmitters (UARTs) that are not part of the final hardware design. JTAG ports and other debugging and programming interfaces, unneeded wireless interfaces, and superfluous Ethernet ports are examples. Consider applying MAC address-based limits or other barriers to stop attackers from installing components that cannot be uninstalled.
Disable Automatic Connections
Turning off automatic connections is one of the greatest strategies to protect hardware security. When you keep your computer or phone on and connected to the internet, you leave yourself open to assault. Hackers may take advantage of flaws in your system to get access to your data or control of your device.
Even if you have a strong password, it won’t stop a determined hacker. Turning off automatic connections makes it more difficult for hackers to get access to your machine while also saving battery life. Furthermore, only connect to networks that you trust.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are often insecure. This enables anyone to monitor your traffic. If you must use public Wi-Fi (HTTPS), connect exclusively to sites that utilize encryption, such as Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. You can help keep your hardware secure from assault by following these easy procedures.
Electronic Security Measures
A safe element for keeping a master key may improve electronic security. This enables users to encrypt and decrypt additional credentials and data as needed. Secure components guard against dangers like key extraction and manipulation. If hardware-secure components are not a viable option, hardware-enforced isolation or another kind of hardware security may be utilized instead.
Using a secure authenticator device and formatting’ peripherals is another way to improve electronic security. These authenticator devices use strong cryptography to mutually authenticate each other. This reduces the possibility of your network being compromised by counterfeit hardware posing as a trustworthy device.
Use environmental monitoring and tamper switches for gear that is more likely to be tampered with to strengthen electronic security even more. The master key is uploaded into a battery-powered SRAM device, which is deleted if the tamper switch is tripped. Trigger switches may also detect light in the normally dark inside of the machine, locking it if it is opened.
Strict Physical Security
Actual system theft from workplace premises may be reduced by securing gear to workstations using specific lockable steel cables. In a post-pandemic corporate environment where remote work is still popular, laptop chassis may be protected with specific locks to prevent the device from being dismantled.
Servers are a critical component of a company’s infrastructure, and any manipulation or damage to this gear may result in massive losses. Servers should thus be safeguarded by being placed on racks in dedicated server rooms. To avoid tampering, these ‘server cabinets’ should have lockable doors, and the front bezels of individual servers should likewise be protected with a lock. The temperature and atmosphere of the room must be properly managed to avoid server damage from overheating or dampness.
Locked doors, on-site security personnel, tight identification verification, and CCTV cameras should be used to safeguard the premises. It is critical to monitor IT server rooms and staff devices. Access to important hardware should be controlled, and physical access privileges should be managed with the same zeal as software access privileges. Individual, team, department, and organizational permissions may be easily adjusted using cloud-based access control systems.
Use real-time monitoring
Real-time hardware monitoring guarantees proper security and prevents illegal acts, which is particularly important in organizations with remote employees. Cloud-based real-time monitoring solutions alert security professionals in the event of a hardware compromise and enable rapid incident response. Implement visual verification methods, activity reporting, and remote access to physical equipment whenever practical. This will assist in reducing reaction times in the event of a security breach.
Gradually, start planning to utilize integrated platforms and IoT automation to get a complete picture of your company’s hardware security posture. This data may be analyzed using artificial intelligence-powered analytics to allow the proactive adoption of business security measures as needed.
Conduct routine audits
Auditing your present hardware security and cybersecurity postures on a regular basis is always a smart idea. Set up audits to identify and manage operational hazards. Enhance your audits by performing frequent vulnerability testing and system monitoring. This will assist in safeguarding your company from emerging dangers.
Audits of hardware security must be rigorous, time-consuming, intrusive, and, in some cases, harmful. If the cause for its appearance is unknown, electrically inspect the inputs and outputs of any questionable modules after consulting with the manufacturer and your in-house hardware specialists. Compare the architecture of sensitive systems in your business to reference pictures certified by the original manufacturer. If necessary, use X-rays or other comprehensive processes to assure the security of strategically important gear.
Hardware security is crucial because the hardware layer is riddled with vulnerabilities that go unpatched for years on end, making it an easy target for cybercriminals. Hardware security is becoming an increasingly relevant topic of discussion among companies and manufacturers across industries.
Instead of sitting back and expecting your corporate assets to defend themselves from hostile actors, work to apply the security best practices described above. As greater emphasis is placed on safeguarding physical devices, security teams will find it simpler to identify and mitigate risks proactively.
Our team at Caplock Security consists of security experts with years of expertise in a range of cybersecurity disciplines. Several of our clients have already used our services to enhance their security standards, meet regulatory requirements, and reduce risk. Our expertise can help you identify security flaws and provide guidance on how to properly address them.