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Embedded System Security for C/C++ Developers

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This course is available Live Online worldwide: View the Live Online full course description »

In-person training schedule under review for 2022. Please contact us to discuss your requirements for in-person individual and team training. 

Standard Level - 3 days

Embedded microcontrollers have been used for many years within electronic systems, across a huge range of applications from simple environmental monitors through to automotive components and complex consumer appliances. Security issues affecting networked computers running operating systems such as Windows and Linux (including “Embedded Linux”) are well-documented but traditionally, security was not a major concern for many small, microcontroller-based systems. However, the increasing trend to connect devices to a network, both locally and across a wide area (such as the Internet) has sometimes led to security vulnerabilities not expected by the system designers.

This course provides an awareness of the security issues affecting microcontroller-based embedded systems and teaches approaches to protect against them. Since many of these systems are developed using the C or C++ programming languages, it looks at how C/C++ should be written to avoid security vulnerabilities. It also considers alternative hardware-based solutions to ensure secure booting, data communication and updates for the embedded software application.

The workshops are based around carefully designed exercises investigating security features and issues for a real embedded system to reinforce and challenge the extent of learning, and comprise approximately 50% of class time.

If you have specific security application requirements, please contact the Doulos team to discuss your options.

"Embedded System Security for C/C++ Developers" is aimed at electronic hardware, software and system-on-chip engineers who need to gain a working knowledge of the software and hardware security issues affecting a microcontroller-based embedded system.

Note that this is not a course on the security issues affecting embedded Linux applications - delegates wishing to learn more about that topic are recommended to take the Doulos “Practical Embedded Linux Security” course. 

  • Identifying the main security threats and vulnerabilities for an embedded system
  • How to use common encryption and decryption standards for data-at-rest and data-in-motion
  • Key management and use of certificates for authentication
  • How to secure communication with TLS
  • Writing secure C code
  • How to use a coding standard with static analysis tools to identify security issues in C code
  • Using a Secure Software Development methodology and framework
  • Embedded system hardware features for security
  • Approaches to test security of embedded applications

Delegates should have knowledge of the C or C++ programming language and embedded system architecture. In particular a basic level of familiarity with functions, variables, data types, operators, and statements. The Doulos C Programming for Embedded Systems or C++ Programming for Embedded Systems courses provide appropriate preparation for engineers who lack this experience.

Please contact Doulos directly to discuss and assess your specific experience against the pre-requisites.

Doulos training materials are renowned for being the most comprehensive and user-friendly available. Their style, content and coverage are unique in the Embedded Systems training world, and have made them sought after resources in their own right. The materials include:

  • Fully indexed class notes creating a complete reference manual
  • Workbook full of practical examples and solutions to help you apply your knowledge

Day 1

Introduction to Security

Why is security necessary • What are vulnerabilities • Overview of Secure Software Development Lifecycle

Writing Secure C/C++ Code 1 - Memory Vulnerabilities and Attacks

Safe use of pointers • Memory allocation and corruption • Buffer overflow • Return Oriented Programming

Writing Secure C/C++ Code 2 - Vulnerabilities and Mitigations

String and format functions • Integer security • Concurrency • File I/O
Lab - Memory Overflow-based attacks

Secure Software Development Lifecycle

Software design goals and threats • Threat modelling
Lab - Creating a Threat Model

Day 2


Encryption and Decryption • Hashes • Block encryption • Block Cipher Modes • AES • Streaming Ciphers • ChaCha20+Poly1305 • AEAD
Lab - Message encryption/decryption

Cryptography in Action

Key management • Signing • Certificate and Certificate Agencies • Pre-shared secrets
Lab - Installing and using certificates

Transport Layer Security

Secure communications • Random Number Generators • Authentication • IoT Protocols • MQTT • DTLS • HTTPS • TLS Implementation • Wireless LAN Security and Threats
Lab - Sending secure messages

Day 3

Rules for Secure Coding

Common Criteria • CWE and CVE • The Role of Coding Standards • CERT C and MISRA-C • Dynamic and Static Analysis
Lab - Use of static analysis tools

Secure Embedded System Software Architecture

Secure software architecture goals • Traditional guiding principles • Side channel & timing attacks • Least privilege, trust and secure processes • Arm Platform Security Architecture (PSA)
Lab - Side-channel timing attack

Secure Embedded System Hardware Architecture

Security in hardware • Crypto-Accelerator Overview • Arm TrustZone • Secure boot and update • Hardware options for security

Testing for Security

Unit tests and frameworks • Tools • Penetration Testing • Protocol Fuzzing • Disassembly • Simple Power Analysis (SPA) • Differential Power Analysis (DPA)

On-site team training

For on-site, team-based training, please contact Doulos about tailoring this course to suit your hardware and software environment.

Looking for team-based training, or other locations?

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