It is very simple to protect your desktop computer or mobile device against security breaches like hackers or all the other types of malware. You just install an antivirus and a firewall and the problem is solved. Of course, you can add extra protection like anti spam, anti phishing, parental control, browser security, user account security and so on, but those are not that necessary for a regular informed user.
The problem is that pc’s and smartphones are consuming a lot of power and their cost could reach to many dollars. But a manufacturer who owns a wall or doll outlet will intend to add Internet connectivity only as long as this will not cost that much, otherwise this deal will not be profitable. This means the code is embedded in firmware and it has no operating system or antivirus solution.
The only solution for any bug or security issue is, in this last case, to overwrite the firmware with a new version. This upgrade is very risky, though. That built in firmware can be very well made, it can do its job properly but it can also open the door for a crook to control and command your software. This kind of attacks is very common and a security solution is very complex yet.
For example, there is a company called Arxan Technologies that developed a very ambitious project, about reverse engineering and code modification prevention. This company practically helps app developers to add security into their firmware.
Many of the hackers attacks consist in manipulating, intercepting or duplicating network traffic between a device and a server or a smartphone. Arxan practically stop the bad guys from the app itself, not from the network level. They can detect if someone has tried to infect the firmware code at the run time.
What it is nice to this project is the fact that the protection is built into the firmware and it is monitoring the active code against any unwanted modification. The only solution for hackers to succeed is to completely replace the original firmware with a fake one that has no longer the protection from Arxan. But here the Arxan engineers come with a solution, they created a lot of tricks in order to prevent reverse engineering and disassembling to happen. In this way, the battle against firmware hackers continues.