The ACKme Connect portfolio, which includes software products such as WiConnnect and TruConnect, is part of a larger sophisticated application framework that runs on all ACKme connectivity modules and cloud service solutions. For connectivity modules running WiConnect, this framework provides core features such as a hardened bootloader, customer accessible read/write file system, a persistent web server with REST API, safemode recovery mechanism, secure over-the-air (OTA) upgrade capability and much much more.
ACKme modules are entirely unique. Each module contains an encrypted identification signature comprising a 128-bit hardware universally unique identifier (UUID), a unique AES-128 key and a unique TLS client certificate. These credentials are used by ACKme servers for two purposes: to uniquely identify each module and to facilitate secure communications between the module and cloud servers to provide security equivalent to that employed by financial institutions. This enables ACKme and its customers to provide secure upgrades to individual file(s), application(s) or an entire firmware bundle for any individual module or modules, either at production time, or once the module has been deployed to the field as part of an end-product.
Above: Simplified diagram demonstrating the secure cloud/module interaction
At the time of manufacturing, when a module passes through the ACKme production test program, it is programmed with a unique identification signature. That same unique signature is concurrently registered with a secure authoritative database relying on technology developed by Sensors.com and managed by ACKme. At this point, the module may be considered ‘alive’, with its unique signature equivalent to that of a ‘birth certificate’. Each secure database is mirrored and regularly backed up to guarantee availability and reliability.
When a product manufacturer incorporates the module into a product, that product manufacturer may require additional product configuration files, identification and security information. ACKme provides the ability for product manufacturers to store this information on the same managed database that ACKme uses to store unique module signatures, and to load product information onto one specific module or millions of modules!
In addition to the unique identification process and authoritative database managed by ACKme, the entire module upgrade process is protected by the industry standard TLS/HTTPS security used by financial institutions. TLS client and TLS server certificates are used to force bidirectional authentication of both the module and server.
The OTA upgrade process ensures:
- Each ACKme module verifies the identity of the cloud server
- The cloud server verifies the identity of each individual ACKme module
- Each module only has permission to receive specific pre-configured firmware files, applications or bundles
- Only authorised servers are allowed to push pre-configured firmware files, applications or bundles to certain modules
While this process may appear complex and create additional overhead on firmware and configuration upgrades, ACKme Connect software performs all of these tasks in the background – enabling you to instead focus your efforts on building a great connected and secure product! A summary of advantages, features and benefits of the ACKme secure upgrade service is outlined in the following list.
- A single hardware design can receive unique firmware builds, enabling per unit customization in the field
- Firmware updates can be targeted at the ACKme module or host controllers
- Hardware revisions can be accounted for in the cloud without end-customer interaction
- Unauthorised firmware cannot be loaded onto a device
- Virus, SPAM and malware targeted at embedded systems cannot be maliciously uploaded into a module
- Unauthorised upgrade servers will be rejected by the device, avoiding rogue firmware updates
- Personal security is guaranteed. For example, products such as thermostats cannot be used to validate residential occupancy.
- ... and much more