Code signing is an integral part of encryption and modern-day security. Without this crucial technology, we would not have secured devices that work the way we want. Being able to have encrypted software on embedded devices is one of the many reasons why these devices are getting so important in recent years. Signing code is a crucial part of encryption technology, as it enables product manufacturers to protect intellectual property and stimulate development.
The way that this method of protection works is by imprinting a digital fingerprint on each binary. For example, embedded developers want to ensure that their products will not work with replacement firmware. They do this by building security into the system that checks to ensure that nothing was tampered with. That is how most modern-day devices work, and it was a key cornerstone in video game consoles. Without this technology, piracy would become a lot bigger in the game development world.
It is also a crucial part of the way we do security in mobile phones and servers. Developers are wising up to the fact that their hardware could get penetrated at any time. You want to ensure that no one will be able to tamper with software after this hardware penetration has happened. Hackers are only getting more sophisticated, and that is due to the number of countries hiring and training hackers.
What Is Signing in Encryption
Without encryption, it is pretty difficult to authenticate whether the code running on an embedded device is correct or not. That is where code signing comes into play. You essentially create your embedded microprocessor in a way that ensures that only signed code can run. During the initialization process, you check to ensure that this code was signed. If it wasn’t, it fails to launch.
That method of authentication is crucial in devices where the user will have physical access. In these cases, the user can extract your firmware and dig deep for your secrets. Your competitors can also do the same thing, so it is crucial to use encryption to obfuscate what you are doing. However, there are certain mistakes that you can do that leaves you wide open to hackers.
Why Does It Matter?
Signing code matters because it is the foundation of embedded security. Without it, embedded manufacturers would have no way of securing their products. The first video game consoles could not sign code, and it was a monumental failure. People were able to make copies of games, and it led to massive piracy. As time went on, being able to sign code was a crucial part of securing certain consoles.
Being able to sign code is one of the most valuable things that embedded devices can have. It will only get more important in the future, and we see that now with the rise of IoT devices. Eventually, we will have billions of these devices worldwide, and they will depend on the ability to sign code to work well.
Potential Security Risks
There are many security risks that can happen to you when you don’t sign your code correctly. The most important one is that your device will become wide open to people running their own code on it. The other major consequence is they will now be able to analyze your firmware and everything you do. If you have any secrets inside your firmware, it could make you a target for hacks in the future.
A big thing that can happen is they can also discover your remote server infrastructure. For example, if your device phones home for checks and updates, hackers can then discover the network your server is on. They would then be able to launch attacks against that network and those servers. If they could take over your service, it could lead to the destruction of your business.
Getting Signed Code Right
Signing your code is something that you have to do correctly, or you will have a really bad time. Getting it done correctly means having an unbreakable encryption algorithm and boot procedure. Most encryption algorithms are secure, but the biggest thing is always being able to implement those algorithms correctly. You should have a system that cannot be breached by hackers with physical access to it.
What Happens When You Get It Wrong?
You do not want to have problems when signing your code. It will be disastrous for your organization. That is especially true if you have embedded devices being deployed to millions of people. The major issue that will happen to you is you will have security problems in everything you do. For example, hackers will easily access your devices, and you won’t know what is going on. You also have to realize that not been able to get it right is only going to lead to you losing valuable intellectual property.
Integrating Signing Into What You Do
It might be difficult to integrate the ability to sign code into your organization. However, it is a great thing to add to your DevOps. It will allow your team to streamline and secure your pipeline. It is one of the most significant benefits to the future of web and mobile deployment.
DevOps and Signing Code
Added encryption to DevOps code is one of the best things you can do for security. When you do that, it enables you to secure the entire pipeline, and it also means your deployments will be better. You will be able to protect intellectual property, which is one of the most crucial parts of the entire process.
The rise of embedded systems only leads to signing code becoming a crucial part of every modern routine. If you know how to do things right, it will be one of the best decisions you could ever make. It might take a long time to integrate it into your DevOps process, but the results will be worth the effort. The security benefits are too numerous to count, but they could save your business in the future.