Over-the-air (OTA) updates offer many benefits for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. They enable remote patching of bugs or security flaws, rather than having expensive service technicians or inexperienced users perform the updates in-person.
They also offer the potential for enhanced revenue streams, as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can offer add-on services through an OTA update.
These benefits, however, must be balanced by the risks: a poorly executed OTA update can result in “bricked” (nonfunctioning) devices and significant inconvenience to consumers, as well as reputational damage to the OEM. In addition, OTA updates offer a potential path for the introduction of malware on IoT devices and can therefore compromise security for both consumers and the OEM. With millions of IoT devices, even a small percentage of OTA failures or security breaches will result in thousands or tens of thousands of affected consumers.