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Canonical releases Ubuntu Core 18 OS for IoT devices

Written by Thu 24 Jan 2019

Ubuntu Core 18 is a lightweight operating system for IoT and embedded devices

Canonical has officially launched Ubuntu Core 18, bringing the popular locked-down Linux distro Ubuntu 18 to small connected and embedded devices.

Ubuntu Core 18 is a stripped down version of Ubuntu 18 and weighs in at a feather-like 260mb, but is packed with security enhancements for IoT devices that are increasingly the target of botnets and cryptocurrency malware.

One of those is Snaps, a secure gateway for applications that run on the OS that Canonical says enables ‘a new class of app-centric things’. Snaps are digitally signed applications that have to be “inherited” from a Ubuntu desktop or server version. All Snaps are strictly confined – essentially sandboxed – so as to reduce the attack vector of a comprised application.

All of an application’s dependencies are included in the Snap package, and all Snaps distributed to devices are scanned regularly for known weaknesses.

Overall this makes the OS more secure, but stripped of many of the packages that attract users to Ubuntu 18. Canonical says that limiting the packages installed on the base OS reduces the size and frequency of security updates necessary for IoT devices, which by their remote nature are much harder to manage.

Ubuntu Core 18 also comes with a security service tailored to enterprise customers. Ubuntu Core 18 will receive ten years low-cost security maintenance, reassuring firms who have long-term industrial and mission-critical IoT projects that their OS is patched and up-to-date.

“Canonical’s Ubuntu Core puts the right code on a device with clean update and management semantics,” said Ian Hughes, Senior Analyst IoT, 451 Research.

“Since Snaps deliver everything from the kernel and device drivers to third party applications, targeted upgrades can be orchestrated and delivered to IoT endpoints via a central app store with no user intervention. This manageability is essential to enhance the ongoing security and performance of devices in the field.”

IoT malware threats have increased from just over 5,000 in Q4 2016 to over 45,000 incidents detected in Q3 2018. Threats target any kind of connected hardware including routers, smart devices, webcams and more, and according to McAfee, are generally directed toward Linux-based systems.

Written by Thu 24 Jan 2019

Tags:

canonical cybersecurity edge IoT security ubuntu
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