Today, businesses are increasingly reliant on technology. This means that they are also increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. One of the most important aspects of business security is the integrity of the devices that businesses use. These devices are all powered by printed circuit boards (PCBs).
PCBs are essential for the functionality of modern devices. They are responsible for routing electrical signals throughout the device, and they also contain the chips and other components that make the device work. As such, PCBs are a critical target for cyberattackers.
There are a number of ways that PCBs can be hacked. One way is to introduce malware into the PCB. This malware can then be used to steal data, disrupt operations, or even take control of the device.
Another way to hack a PCB is to physically modify it. This can be done by adding or removing components, or by altering the PCB's circuitry.
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Transition to the IoT
According to a report compiled in 2019, 94% of businesses will use the IoT by the end of 2021. This can mean many different things for many different businesses, but by and large, it is likely to translate to dependence on more devices.
From employee smartphones to wireless printing services, to security sensors throughout offices, these devices can collect and share all sorts of data for the benefit of the business.
This is basically the nature of the IoT as it relates to business. And while it can simplify a lot of practices, it complicates security simply because there are more devices to protect.
Modern Device Integrity
Protecting those devices comes down in part to make sure the integrity of their internal electronics is secure and incorruptible.
For the most part, this is not actually something businesses handle directly, but rather something that’s part of the printed circuit board design and device engineering process.
Within this process, there are area sensitive parts of the PCB that have to be handled carefully so that there are not fabrication failures or similar issues.
This basically means that PCBs have to be designed in reliable ways, and such that they can stand up to the needs of the devices they’re fitted for. In its own way, this is a form of data security. A reliable circuit board makes for a more durable device, which will function as needed within the IoT.
Protective Device Functionality
Moving away from the fundamentals of the IoT and the concept of data security, circuit boards are also extraordinarily important when it comes to modern security for physical workplaces.
We’ve looked before at electrical fire prevention systems, which are excellent examples of protective devices that depend heavily on internal circuit boards and wiring.
Systems like these — as well as motion sensors, smoke sensors, etc. — require internal components that won’t break down, and that can reliably connect to send wireless signals. This comes down in part to PCB design.
Hardware Can Be Hacked
It should also be mentioned that hardware — right down to printed circuit boards — can be hacked as well. Generally, we’re used to the idea of hacking referring to digital concerns. For example, phones can be hacked via malware, insecure Wi-Fi, or password infiltration, which is why we tend to train ourselves to guard against all of the above.
Hardware hacking, at least for small, wireless devices, is less common. But it’s certainly possible for these devices to be physically corrupted. This can be done by way of an external chip or, on some occasions, by an altered chip or circuit board that can alter how devices work.
Again, it’s not particularly common, but it’s one reason to value denser or more complex PCBs (which are harder to manipulate) and secure devices.
Fortunately, a lot of these concerns are handled for us. PCB design has become extraordinarily sophisticated, and the devices businesses rely on for wireless IoT integration tend to be difficult to manipulate without notice.
Even so, as we move ever forward into the digital age, we should continue to bear this sort of electrical and hardware security in mind.
In order to protect their PCBs from attack, businesses need to take a number of steps. These steps include:
- Using secure PCB design practices
- Keeping PCB firmware up to date
- Using firewalls and other security measures to protect network connections
- Conducting regular security audits
By taking these steps, businesses can help to protect their PCBs from attack and keep their data safe.
A Way Forward
- The transition to the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing the number of devices that businesses need to secure.
- PCBs are also essential for the functionality of physical security devices, such as fire alarms and motion sensors.
- Hardware hacking is a less common threat than digital hacking, but it is still a risk that businesses need to be aware of.
- Fortunately, there are a number of steps that businesses can take to protect their PCBs from attack.
The integrity of PCBs is essential for business security. By taking the necessary steps to protect their PCBs, businesses can help to keep their data safe and their operations secure.
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