123 posts categorized "Software Development Tools"

11/25/2014

Where's The Action On Security Concerns?

Recognition of Software Security Issues Are High; Mitigation is Not

I read an interesting report from Spiceworks recently about mobile security actions by IT departments...or perhaps, lack of actions might be more accurate. The report, which is free to download, shows that nearly all IT professionals are worried about security risks affecting mobile devices supported by their company. However, this level of concern vastly outweighs the level of action their organizations have actually taken to lessen security threats.

This central finding, while disappointing, does not come as a surprise. Year after year, we see a persistent gap between awareness of software security importance and the steps taken to mitigate these issues. To help inform our analysis of the software and systems development market, VDC conducts an extensive end-user survey of global development community. In 2014, only 7.7% of embedded engineers surveyed considered security “not at all important” on their current project; just 2% of enterprise/IT developers felt the same way. Yet 22% of the respondents in embedded and 12% from enterprise report their organization has taken no actions in response to security requirements on their current project.

Picture3 - ATVT security

Need to Close the Awareness – Action Gap

The potential financial and safety impacts of software vulnerabilities have been clearly demonstrated by several recent and very public cases. Incidents, such as those exposing customer data from major retailers and software-related automotive recalls can dominate news cycles, damage brand equity, and more importantly - risk lives.

A growing reliance on software for embedded device functionality and to manage financial data has raised the importance of actively addressing security considerations during software design. Unfortunately, the velocity of software innovation is outpacing the application of safeguards and challenges continue to mount. Code base volume and complexity continues to rise. Development teams are increasingly utilizing alternative code sources including open-source software to meet their time-to-market windows. The number of potential entry points for malicious activities is increasing exponentially as more connected devices are deployed as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Teams designing software for the IT or embedded markets should start testing for security vulnerabilities early in the development lifecycle when resolution is the least costly. We recommend static and binary analysis as effective tools for finding the most common security defects such as buffer overflows, resource leaks, and other vulnerabilities. Use of these solutions should be incorporated as part of a comprehensive testing regime. Undoubtedly, the ramifications of software vulnerabilities are too severe to leave addressed by manual processes or chance.

 

More insight and Recommendations

For further investigation and discussion about this and other important trends in the automated test and verification tool landscape, as well as other disruptive shifts in systems lifecycle management, please see our 2014 Software and System Lifecycle Management (SSLM) intelligence service.

10/07/2014

How Significant is ARM’s mbed OS?

For microcontrollers (MCUs) used in embedded devices, intellectual property supplier ARM is the clear market leader. In a recent forecast for VDC Research’s report “The Global Market for Embedded Processors,” ARM-based MCUs accounted for more than half of the unit shipments using non-proprietary architectures in 2013 (see chart).

MCU Shipments by Architecture

The Cortex-M series is the main line of ARM MCUs, and is the most prevalent architecture used in embedded devices for the IoT. So when ARM announced on October 1 at the TechCon convention and trade show that the company would provide a free operating system—the mbed OS—for the M-series, it created considerable buzz in the industry, as well as some consternation and a bit of confusion.

ARM has been using the mbed name since 2005 for “maker”-style development platforms based on Cortex-M series MCUs, along with a large community of developers and an extensive software library. But the new announcement greatly expands the original mbed concept. The mbed name now encompasses not only the new operating system, but also: a cloud connectivity platform (mbed Device Server); a set of development tools (mbed Tools); and an ecosystem of partners (mbed Partners). Effectively, mbed has become a line of both products and services. ARM says that collectively, mbed will “accelerate Internet of Things deployment.” In this blog post, we’ll focus on the mbed operating system.

The embedded industry is already rife with many dozens of operating systems, ranging from bare bones to fully-featured. These include commercially-licensed binaries (closed source), commercially-licensed open source, free open source, as well as proprietary in-house OSs.

For resource-constrained embedded devices, the free open source offerings have been popular but limited in the extent of their development. Generally, commercially-licensed OSs are more professionally designed, thoroughly tested, and robust.

Several aspects of the mbed OS are noteworthy. First, ARM says that its free OS will be commercial grade. By offering it for free, the mbed OS will compete with some of the commercial embedded OSs already on the market. However, in his keynote speech at TechCon, ARM’s CTO Mike Muller emphasized that the mbed OS will not be a real time operating system (RTOS). Many IoT devices require the time-critical determinism of an RTOS, most notably in safety critical applications such as avionics, automotive systems, factory automation, and the like. The lack of real time functions will limit the breadth of applicability for mbed OS, and the extent to which it will compete with many of the commercial OSs on the market.

Second, ARM said its main intention of releasing the OS along with the mbed Device Server was to ease embedded software development to handle the many security concerns and communications protocols used in IoT, as those are often sticking points for developers not previously experienced with connected devices. Zach Shelby, Directory of Technical Marketing for the ARM’s IoT initiatives, noted that even devices running competing commercial OSs will be able to take advantage of mbed Device Server connectivity services. As Shelby described it, ARM isn’t trying to compete with OS vendors, the company is trying to ensure that IoT developers have adequate support to bring products to market in a timely manner.

Third, although ARM did not mention this in its press information Shelby told VDC that much of the mbed OS source code would be made available as open source. He also said that a few specific software components (such as some security modules) would be released only as binaries, i.e. closed source, which is why the company hasn’t been touting the OS as “open source.”

And fourth, ARM’s announcement only described the mbed OS as being for the M-series MCUs, but Shelby told us that partners will be able to adapt the open source code for ARM’s other series of processors. Indeed, at least one hardware vendor on the show floor was demonstrating a working version of the mbed OS on a Cortex A-series microprocessor. However, the higher performance A-series line is often used with more fully featured operating systems (e.g. Linux), and VDC doesn’t consider it to be a major target for the mbed OS.

All-in-all, VDC believes that the mbed OS will be significant for how it should speed up development for new entrants in the IoT. It probably won’t cause a major upheaval in the broad market for commercial embedded OSs, but a few of the OS vendors at the low end of the market are likely to be adversely impacted.

08/07/2014

IoT Lessons from the Russian CyberVor Hacking

Widely reported during the first week of August was the revelation that a group of Russian hackers known as CyberVor had amassed a database of 1.2 billion usernames and passwords, as well as more than 500 million email addresses. The New York Times originally broke the story, based on findings from the firm Hold Security. Unlike the Target retail data breach of late 2013 and the more recent eBay breach, CyberVor’s loot is not the result of one or two large breaches, but rather a large number of breaches of all sizes. Hold Security says that the data came from 420,000 websites, ranging from large household-name dotcoms down to small sites. Most of the sites were breached using SQL injection techniques through malware infecting the computers of unwitting legitimate users.

Breaches of major websites or retailers tend to be highly concentrated, narrowly focused efforts, whereas the database collected by CyberVor appears to be the result of casting a very wide (bot)net, trawling the world wide web for anything the group could catch.

What lessons can the CyberVor revelation teach us (or reinforce) about the Internet of Things?

Lesson #1: No IoT site (either physical or virtual) is too small to be attacked. Many users are tempted to think, “Why would anyone bother to hack my little IoT network?” The answer is, “Because they can.”

Lesson #2: Even data that has little or no value to hackers on its own may have value when aggregated.  If you think your data is worthless to others, you’re probably wrong. Big data is comprised of a whole lot of little data.

Lesson #3: Authorized users or devices are not necessarily safe just because they are authorized. Follow the principle of least privilege, in which users or devices only have access to the minimum amount of data and system resources necessary to perform their functions.

Lesson #4: Monitor your networks for atypical or unexpected movements of data. This is challenging in practice, because valid usage occasionally may not follow past patterns. Nevertheless, at a minimum the system should have a way to throw up a red flag if a user or device is attempting to copy large portions of a database.

Lesson #5: Don’t neglect the basics. SQL injection attacks as well as buffer overflows and cross-site scripting are common and easily preventable. Most software code analysis tools can check for vulnerabilities to such attacks early in the development process.

Lesson #6: Conduct independent penetration tests on your devices and networks. If you think that your own engineers already have covered every possible attack vector, you’re probably wrong. You need outside eyeballs incentivized to find flaws without concern about stepping on coworkers’ toes.

And lastly, Lesson #7: At the risk of stating the obvious, encrypt your data. Any database that is accessible either directly or indirectly from the Internet is worth encrypting. Passwords in particular are keys to the kingdom. Encrypt them with salted hash techniques and strong algorithms. There is never a valid reason to store passwords in plain text.

If the websites breached by CyberVor already had learned these lessons, the hack wouldn’t even have been newsworthy.

For more insights into IoT security issues, check out VDC’s research program on Security & the Internet of Things.

07/22/2014

VDC Research is attending Agile2014 in Orlando July 28-29

We are attending the Agile2014 conference in Orlando

Agile2014 is organized by the Agile Alliance, and it is intended to promote the principles of Agile and serve as an opportunity for all of the foremost experts and innovators in the field to come together. The conference boasts over 240 talks and workshops across 16 program tracks and over 1,800 attendees. For more information about Agile2014 and to register for the event, click here.

Make sure to attend the Industry Analyst Panel Discussion: Agile Trends and Future Directions on Tuesday, June 29 to see VDC’s Chris Rommel speak on the panel.

 

“The improved communication and expanded collaboration of Agile software development is helping early adopters discover new engineering synergies and increase their planning predictability. There is wider recognition for the effectiveness of more flexible and iterative strategies such as Agile and cross-engineering domain integration in addressing systems development challenges and rapidly responding to shifting customer needs or market expectations. Better management of design interdependencies through cross-domain integration can often increase operational efficiencies, resulting in cost savings. Use of these methods helps organizations further advance toward a continuous engineering approach, accelerating the pace of software content creation.”

-From André Girard, VDC Research

 

Contact us directly to schedule a meeting!

We would like to learn more about your company’s solutions and personal experiences, and we welcome the opportunity to meet attending vendors. VDC will be at the conference on Monday, June 28 and Tuesday, June 29. Please contact us directly f you would like to arrange a meeting.

Contact André Girard, Senior Analyst, M2M Embedded Technology Practice, VDC Research Group at agirard@vdcresearch.com or 508.653.9000 x153.

About VDC Research

VDC has been covering the embedded systems market since 1994 and the use of lifecycle management solutions since 2000. To learn more about VDC’s coverage of Software and System Lifecycle Management Tools, check out our website here, and to see what other research and products are offered by VDC Research’s Embedded Software & Tools practice, click here

 

-Patrick McGrath

Research Associate, VDC Research

05/22/2014

VDC Research is Attending IBM Innovate2014 in Orlando

VDC Research will be attending Innovate2014, IBM’s Technical Summit in Orlando, June 1-3, 2014. IBM has planned an exciting agenda for the conference highlighting continuous engineering, DevOps, and Innovation.

We are also pleased to announce Chris Rommel, Executive Vice President of M2M Embedded Technology is a speaker for an important panel discussion, “Best Practices for Agile Product Development”, to be held Monday, June 2. We encourage you to attend.

Best Practices for Agile Product Development discussion overview:

Agile methods are popular and effective in software development for complex products. But, the application of agile principles to the broader product development process offers the prospect of even greater business value through improved productivity and predictability and better management of change. This session presents a panel of several experts to discuss the challenges of extending agile beyond software processes. These experts will also address key approaches that can maximize the value for product development organizations.

Haven't decided yet if you're attending IBM Innovate2014? Please check out the Innovate2014 website for more information on the conference program, scheduled speakers, as well as information on companies that will be exhibiting. We hope to see you there.

10/22/2013

Outsourced Code Development Driving Automated Test Tool Market

The M2M embedded software team here at VDC Research just published a new report, 2013 Automated Test & Verification Tools (ATVT), volume 3 of our Software & System Lifecycle Management Tools intelligence service. The report looks into the most critical trends and market drivers impacting the rapidly evolving use of dynamic test and static analysis tools in the embedded and enterprise/IT markets.

We expect revenues for several product segments within ATVT to expand at a double digit growth rate over the next several years, fueled by a number of factors.

One of the primary challenges fueling ATVT use is that code bases are expanding in size and complexity as software comes to account for an ever greater percentage of system value. Companies face increasing pressure to deliver more advances through software, and to do so faster. These organizations are looking to several strategies, such as off-shoring to accelerate the pace development while remaining within budget. This outsourcing of embedded systems development enables the use of skilled engineers available at considerably lower labor rates found in the international labor market.

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The challenge of coordinating geographically distributed development teams is one of the factors that we continue to see as a major driver for increased use of formal lifecycle management tools. Our research shows project teams with geographically distributed team members are more likely to use automated test tools than those all sharing the same location. We expect it will become increasingly critical for vendors to ensure their test platforms provide the reliable, scalable performance required to execute and manage tests for large installations across distributed geographic locations. There is opportunity for ATVT suppliers to increase revenue and gain market share by providing solution suites with the functionality these customers demand. Many of these organizations will need broader solution suites that enable creation of software code governance, policy definition, testing against those policies, and enforcement of quality, security and efficiency metrics.

More insight

For further investigation and discussion about these trends and others, please see our recently published report, 2013 Automated Test and Verification Tools, volume 3 of our 2013 Software & System Lifecycle Management Tools Market Intelligence Service. This report analyzes the emerging trends for commercially available testing tools, including static analysis, dynamic, and model-based tools. It also covers the previously mentioned tool types used for general software quality testing and defect detection as well as those used for application security testing and vulnerability management.

Please contact us for more information.

08/19/2013

Trusteer Your Security to IBM: Acquisition Fortifies Security Portfolio

On August 15th, IBM (NYSE:IBM) announced it reached a deal to acquire Trusteer, a Boston-based software-security firm focusing on financial and enterprise cyberthreats. As part of the deal, IBM will absorb Trusteer’s R&D lab in Tel Aviv into its security organization. One major focal point for Trusteer is their mobile security product line, which focuses on preventing intrusion and data theft through enterprise-connected mobile devices.

Smartphones and tablets are becoming integral tools for large and small businesses alike. Mobile devices – like an iPhone equipped with the SalesForce app – are a huge benefit to employees and their employer by allowing them to work remotely and efficiently while away from the office, but these devices also introduce a new set of vulnerabilities into an organization’s security. Our data shows that a large number of these devices have exploitable security flaws that leave sensitive enterprise data vulnerable. A mobile device connected to an enterprise’s network provides a link into the organization that many aren’t adequately protecting.

This acquisition reinforces two key trends: security is an increasingly important factor for all organizations and more needs to be done to protect valuable data from theft. As the number of end-points an organization deals with increases, so does the risk for a security breach. IBM recognizes this and plans to use the Trusteer acquisition to improve its enterprise security products, but the same principles hold true in the embedded industry.

The embedded world is more connected than ever before and this trend continues to grow. Thinking back to famous malware threats such as Stuxnet infiltrating networked manufacturing platforms, it’s clear that inadequate protection of these systems is a major vulnerability to users of embedded software and hardware. Purchasing Trusteer highlights a developing industry trend: end-point protection is becoming a new priority for businesses, embedded or enterprise, in order to keep cyberthreats from harming their operations.

For more information on VDC’s research about security in the embedded industry, click here.

 

By Zach D. McCabe,

Research Assistant, M2M & Embedded Technology

06/28/2013

Combating the Crush of Code Creation

We discussed in a blog earlier this week the growing reliance on software components to provide differentiation in the automotive vertical market. It is a trend that can be witnessed across a wide range of embedded industries and as a result, software volume and complexity is expanding rapidly. With these changes comes a growing appreciation for the value proposition of commercial software tools to manage the challenges borne by software development. The introduction of formal tooling to lessen the reliance on hand-coding and in-house developed tools is a strategy used by more and more organizations to address their development needs.

Utilizing tools (e.g. UML/SDL, HMI, modeling/simulation tools, etc.) to automatically generate portions of software code is a strategy increasingly used as an effective hedge against the missed project deadlines in the face of rapidly increasing code volumes. In fact, developers in several verticals such as telecom, automotive, and aerospace & defense now generate over a fifth of the code created in-house through the use of software modeling tools. With no end in sight for the growth of code bases (nor any likelihood project deadlines become more generous), expect this approach to become more widespread. Furthermore, providing a code generator qualified across a number of software safety certification standards is an increasingly important differentiator for solutions targeting industries with process or safety standards to guide or regulate software.

More insight

For further investigation and discussion about this and other emerging trends in the software and system modeling tool landscape, as well as other important shifts in systems lifecycle management, please see our 2013 Software & Systems Lifecycle Management Tools Market Intelligence Service. The first volume of this series, which focuses on modeling tools, will be available soon.

06/26/2013

Controlling In-Vehicle Innovation with IVI Design

Automotive differentiation is no longer driven by gears and grease. Electronic systems now control most aspects of a vehicle’s operation and the software within those systems has risen to account for an increasing share of their functionality and differentiation. Today, software content growth in the automotive industry continues to outpace most other embedded device classes. In no automotive sector is this trend more acute than in IVI.

Ivi ibm

The culture of conservatism, rooted in automotive’s safety-critical requirements, that has traditionally characterized the domain must adapt. The recent financial crisis imposed an unparalleled catalyst for such change. Entire supply chains followed the OEM leads into bankruptcy. The remaining engineering organizations, many of which lacked the level of development resources they had prior to the financial crisis, are being forced to reevaluate their incumbent development processes and tools in an effort to keep pace with the unabated growth in consumer expectations. In many cases, OEMs must be prepared to adopt new software development solutions to adequately address the complexities of UI design and consumer device integration.

VDC will be conducting a live webcast with IBM and Jaguar Land Rover on June 27th to discuss this emerging trend. Attendees will learn:

  • How open source technologies will impact tomorrow's automotive ecosystem
  • Why OEMs need to revisit their supply-chain strategies to promote new levels of collaboration  and innovation
  • What new development solutions should be considered to adapt

When: June 27th, 11:00am ET / 2:00pm PT

Register: http://bit.ly/136NjqJ

06/25/2013

The Embedded Software Beat

Part two of a Q&A with Matt Klassen, Director of Product and Solutions Marketing at PTC. (See part one)

This interview is part of an ongoing series we conduct with embedded software solution providers to share views on their company, products, and state of the market.

VDC:  When PTC acquired MKS, James Heppelmann, president and CEO of PTC said, “Software engineering has become a fundamental backbone element in today’s product development process.” Indeed, embedded systems continue to grow in complexity and software is defining an ever greater portion of end product value. Given that environment, can you tell us a bit about how the combination of Integrity with PTC’s PLM solutions is addressing some of the challenges facing manufacturers today?

Klassen: PTC is addressing many software intensive product manufacturing challenges head on.  Integrity allows engineers to author, connect, and manage a wide range of development artifacts from requirements to design to code and test. Furthermore, Integrity offers unprecedented reuse and traceability providing efficient change management, even across product variants. This gives management a real-time view of software release readiness in the context of the product engineering cycle.  When used in combination with Windchill, Integrity extends PLM to include robust requirements management, software management, and crossed discipline change management.

VDC: Has the acquisition resulted in new markets or opportunities for the Integrity solution than was available under MKS?

Klassen: PTC gave Integrity global reach and with a loyal customer base. Integrity has been introduced to a host of new customers that have invested heavily in our ALM technology. These customers include HKMC, Huawei, Cummins, John Deere, and Ingersoll Rand to name a few.

VDC: We’re seeing Agile software development methodologies gain broader acceptance across a range of embedded verticals. How does a solution like Integrity help support a transition to iterative development?

Klassen: PTC Integrity ensures a smooth transition to iterative and agile methodologies by providing a flexible scalable Scrum based template that allows enterprises to use traditional, agile or hybrid methods across a distributed set of teams. In addition, Integrity’s support for regulatory compliance standards and ability to reuse requirements, test and code in an Agile environment is unique.

VDC: If you could accurately predict the future, how do see the opportunities for the embedded software market shaping up over in the coming year?

Klassen: The embedded software market will only continue to grow its products to become smart systems of systems.  As companies realize that it is more profitable to transform their products into services, software will enable and deliver the continuous stream of value to products already in the market such that servicing, fixing, upgrading and even offering new features will become much more efficient, less expensive and provide longer life expectancies for many products.  Companies that are able to manage the explosive growth of software efficiently and effectively in the context of the product lifecycle will thrive.  PTC’s strategy is very focused on this market force.

VDC: Thank you, Mark.

Interested in participating in VDC’s “The Embedded Software Beat” series of interviews? Please reach out and let us know.


Matt KlassenMatt Klassen
is passionate about helping customers improve the way they build software intensive products and has been helping organizations excel with software for 20 years.  In his role as Director of ALM Solutions Marketing, Mr. Klassen is responsible for leading the effort to define, market, and sell PTC software and systems engineering management solutions built on PTC Integrity.  With many years working with customers on their complex software systems, Matt has the in knowledge to understand customer challenges across the software development lifecycle in many industries including medical devices, automotive, aerospace, and high tech electronics.  Matt has been a featured speaker at many conferences and events.