Over-the-Air Updates for IoT Devices: Enhancing Security and Efficiency

By Prometteur solutions 14 Min Read

Welcome. If you are looking for a blog post on Over-the-air updates, or OTA updates, we got you covered.

Over-the-air updates, or OTA updates are increasingly gaining more attention from IoT users and manufacturers. They are taken as security and performance enhancers for IoT devices and will continue to do more in the industry.

What does this over-the-air updates blog post offer you?

In this blog post, we will be covering some important aspects of the topic -OTA updates. We will uncover its importance, how it works, and its role in improving user experience.

Read More on IoT Mobile Apps: Revolutionizing Connected Devices

What Does Over-the-air Update Mean?

We know for sure that sometimes you wonder. How can your mobile devices, systems, and computers manage to automatically and remotely update their software versions to the latest releases? That is the power of Over-the-air updates.

Simply put. OTA updates are wireless and remote software updates. The updates come with new or updated features, security patches, enhancements, etc.

On our devices and systems, we can make these updates automatically or manually occur. Since the 1990s when Over-the-air updates came on board, it has evolved to offer support for different devices, including IoT devices.

Today, it is a seamless process to update your IoT devices thanks to the benefits of Over-the-air update technology.

OTA Mechanisms

The two most important OTA mechanisms are;

OTA firmware updates

OTA firmware update mechanism involves techniques that are used in hardware components.

Server OTA updates

Software OTAs are more of software updates, new features and functionalities as well as security patches.

Importance of Over-the-air Updates or OTA Firmware Updates for IoT Devices

Let us briefly discuss why OTA updates are crucial for IOT devices.

Over-the-air Updates Saves Cost and Time

As you use your IoT devices, they must be always run with the updated software for the benefit of your business. This helps ensure security, enhanced performance, and no downtime.

Going wireless as a method for updating the software programs in your IoT devices is the best. It will save you a chunk of your time and the cost of upgrading.

The Over-the-air updates for IoT devices can be automatically done so it is seamless and requires no manual input. The device can simply be updated and continuously working with the new features and functionalities.

Over-the-air Updates Enhances Compatibility

Compatibility can be a challenging issue with using your IOT devices. As your devices need continuous upgrading and updating, so do your IOT devices in terms of compatibility. With OTA updates, you can easily and quickly maintain the compatibility of your IoT devices with your environment for the best interoperability.

Security and Bugs Fixes with Over-the-air updates

OTA updates enhance security and help in fixing bugs. Remember that upgrades and updates can come with security patches and can also counter vulnerabilities in your IoT devices. This means that OTA security updates can be initiated to keep your devices and systems constantly secured.

Over-the-air Updates for Features and Upgrades

IoT device manufacturers release new updates and software upgrades from time to time.

Users of IoT devices do not need to call a professional software expert to upgrade and update their system software because they can do so seamlessly using over-the-air updates


Once this is done, new features and upgrades will be added to the IoT devices and the performance will be enhanced.

Over-the-air Updates Offers Enhanced User Experience

Since OTA updates install the latest, more secure software with better UIX, it offers improvement of software and enhanced user experience to the users. Most times, after over-the-air updates, the UI design of your device will change and it will have more required features, better coloring, smoother navigation, and an overall user experience.

The Roles of Over-the-air Updates in IoT Device Management

That would even be impossible and would leave many businesses prone to attacks and unauthorized access to relevant data. This is where over-the-air updates in IoT device management take relevance.

The future of things claims that in years’ time, IoT devices will reach about 41 billion in quantity. With this number of IoT devices in the market, imagine the trouble of upgrading and updating them using manual processes.

Over-the-air updates play important roles in enhanced IoT device Management. It helps in data protection, enhances communication, and supports optimal system performance.

Over-the-air updates for IoT device management do not do all of the above by only just overwriting files with new ones, no. It uses the power of wireless connections, AI, and automation to properly handle complexities.

Over-the-air updates in IoT device management come with precision, technicalities, smart fixes, security patches, and other functions for enhancements.

What are the Current OTA Challenges in IoT Devices?

There are several challenges of over-the-air updates.

According to The Future of Things, the current challenges facing OTA mechanisms are context awareness, no rollback on earlier versions, security, and scalability.

Let us look at them through the critical lenses of The Future of Things.


Sometimes, modification comes with a certain risk. Sometimes these risks are very serious when it comes to some devices and their context of use. For example, connected cars or tools for medical purposes.

IoT manufacturers may send updates or upgrades via over-the-air updates while a device is engaged in a crucial task. You can imagine the risks involved when this is the case with an emergency medical app.

No rollback to an earlier version

Over-the-air updates can be installed with some corrupt files to a company’s IoT. When this happens, the device may not be able to automatically receive such updates, Also, you may not be able to roll back to the older version.

This can be a very serious issue because of it. Will cost you more money and downtime.

Imagine using IoT devices for your housing business and over-the-air updates are installed along with corrupt software that affects your locks. Your business will be down for some time until you are able to fix it.

Security issues

Over-the-air updates on IOT devices can come with some security issues or flaws. These can cause serious damage to your business. What if malware is installed along with the new software sent using over-the-air updates?

Hackers can possibly alter a legitimate update, introduce malicious code, seize control of a device, and reprogram delicate embedded system components.

When it comes to security issues surrounding OTA practices, the three main challenges are authentication problems, confidentiality problems, and integrity issues.

Here is how to overcome these challenges, OTA developers need to do the following;

  • Send all data from only trusted servers to all clients.
  • All the data in transit should have very limited access. The users who will be able to access the data should be predestined in numbers.
  • Ensure that there are no corrupt files in any transmitted data and updates to the client’s IoT devices.

Scalability Issues

There is a fast-growing adoption of IoT devices and over-the-air updates seem to be the fastest way to have them updated and upgraded for security, and enhanced for user experience.

OTA systems must be able to adapt to ever-growing needs and inform hundreds of thousands to millions of devices to keep up with the growing number of connected devices.

In order to prevent network saturation and minimize unintended downtime, developers should let administrators schedule updates to their devices.

Check Out Wearable IoT Devices and its Impact on Health, Fitness, and Lifestyle

Over-the-Air Updates Best Practices

Focus on over-the-air updates

Most often, testing, development, and over-the-air updates implementation are neglected by teams. Even when they tend to implement over-the-air update services, they rush and do not use many basic things/requirements.

The over-the-air updates best practices require testers should take it as a priority. It also requires every area of operation to be importantly taken seriously for best results.

Look at the Developer’s skills and experiences

It is over-the-air updates best practices to consider the developers’ competency and years of experience before you hire them on the job.

Working with amateur testers doesn’t give you guarantees because their skills and experiences may not be enough for the job. The best practice is to settle for top skilled over-the-air update skilled developers for best results.

Use the Progressive Deployment Approach

The progressive deployment approach allows administrators to automatically schedule over-the-air updates. This approach is designed to also avoid any network congestion, denial of service, and overstressing during the deployment.

Using the progressive deployment approach, IoT devices can be easily and quickly updated before the massive batches are rolled out.

Criticality of Use Issues Should be Considered

Remember we mentioned that one of the challenges of over-the-air updates is that they may be released during crucial moments? Well, over-the-air updates on best practices are an excellent way of addressing this. Manufacturers must ensure that when updates are released, those devices being used for critical services will not be affected.

Atomic Updates

Rolling back to an older version is very important for several reasons. A typical example is while your IoT devices are doing the upgrade and there is a disruption. Disruptions may include, power outages, or network failures.

Also, it may lead to a device brick and loss of relevant data.

Use your Back Ups For all your Current IoT devices

It is important and useful to have backup storage. This allows IoT experts to save and store relevant information that may not be available to third parties.

During over-the-air updates that go wrong, there is a need to revert to older software.

The older version is stored in a repository somewhere in the cloud.

All you need you do is revert back to earlier software by reloading the data.

Create a Management Server

It is one of the over-the-air updates best practices to have a management server. It is crucial for storage purposes and efficient tracking of your running software program.

A management server will also help in automatically tracking your software versions and your Basic IoT properties.

Over-the-air updates are an interesting thing to do. Although is not easy and in fact, follows very complex rules. Remember that in technology, there is no one-size-fits-all all approach or solutions but always do your research.

Also, keep in mind that every IoT has its own advantages and disadvantages as well as requirements and limitations. Nevertheless, how strategically these tools or devices are utilized will finally depend on your team’s skills. The best teams will make the best of the available resources and devices to put up near excellent over-the-air update solutions.

Our Conclusions and Over-the-air Updates

From all that we have highlighted and discussed in this blog post, the advantages of adopting over-the-air updates supersedes the disadvantages.  

Therefore, embracing the power of OTA updates to ensure secure and efficient IoT device management will be a good business move.

We advise that in doing these, get the best teams, and the best IoT devices and deal with regulated IoT manufacturers for security purposes.

Thank you for reading our over-the-air updates for IoT device management. We hope you learned a lot.

If you need any help with building your team. Let us help you.

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