SHIELDS UP! Making Embedded Systems Secure with Confidence

By Nick Cravotta

Lead Designer

BlueMatter Games

November 16, 2020


SHIELDS UP! Making Embedded Systems Secure with Confidence

One of the most important challenges brought on by IoT connectivity is security. As embedded devices work their way into every aspect of our lives, this also makes them more vulnerable.

There have been a myriad of innovations and advances to embedded system design over the last decade. For example, microcontrollers are now highly integrated systems on chip (SoC) that allow nearly every embedded device to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). These microcontrollers are supported by an incredible array of tools and software, making it possible for developers to build extremely complex systems in substantially less time and with even less effort. With these advances, however, come new challenges.

One of the most important challenges brought on by IoT connectivity is security. As embedded devices work their way into every aspect of our lives, this also makes them more vulnerable and interesting  to hackers. There are many high-profile news stories of connected devices allowing hackers to break into home and office networks through devices that do not have sufficient protection. The result for manufacturers is a disaster that can negatively impact customers and severely damage brand value. To avoid this, devices cannot simply connect to a network. They must be able to protect themselves from direct attack. They must also prevent their operation from being disrupted by compromised devices to which they are connected.

Security is a new technology to many embedded developers, and adding secure capabilities to an embedded system can seem overwhelming and complex. This process is further complicated by the frequency with which security must be updated to address new types of attacks.

To accelerate the introduction of robust security into these applications, many microcontrollers integrate secure capabilities. These capabilities are backed by development tools that simplify the task of implementing security in a robust manner. With the right hardware, software, and tools, it is possible to build secure embedded systems.

To help developers, both experienced and new, keep up with the changing security landscape, Microchip has created the SHIELDS UP! webinar series. This ongoing series provides developers with another set of tools to enable them to provide the right level of security for their applications.

Some of the webinars provide higher-level information, such as Secure Boot for Microprocessors for ensuring the integrity of your system through its entire lifecycle and Platform Firmware Resiliency which covers topics such as how to detect and recover from corrupted Flash firmware files.

Many of the webinars present detailed information about how to implement specific functionality. For example, Implementing Multizone Security in RISC-V Applications discusses how to secure applications particularly for IoT devices that lack a memory management unit (MMU) while RISC-V Enclaves demonstrates how to secure the deterministic behavior of mixed-criticality systems where Linux® and real-time come together.

SHIELDS UP! is an excellent way to learn about the latest trends and developments for safeguarding embedded systems. Security experts from across the embedded industry share their extensive experience to help raise your awareness of potential security vulnerabilities, the risks involved, and leading-edge approaches to increase the robustness of your designs.

It is important that each member of the design team be familiar with the basic concepts of security. This reduces the chances that inexperienced developers will unintentionally compromise system security because they didn’t know any better. To support OEMs with globally diverse teams, The SHIELDS UP! security webinar series has been translated into a number of languages. This way teams spread across different regions can learn and work together to ensure your systems are secure in a robust manner. Currently, the series has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. A Southeast Asia version has also been created that is in English but has been specifically written for developers for whom English is a second language.

With the IoT, security has become as important a design concern as system cost and power consumption. Systems need to be designed to protect themselves from the vulnerabilities that come from the widespread connectivity of IoT. With SHIELDS UP!, you can have confidence that your embedded designs have implemented the security your customers need.

To get advanced notice of upcoming webinars or view past webinars, visit