Vehicle cybersecurity: a vital never ending journey

No matter what mode of transport you consider – car, train, plane, passenger drone, ship – the trend towards increased levels of connectivity and autonomy seems inexorable, and as a result cybersecurity plays an increasingly important role.

Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity is a topic that is front of mind for the most senior automotive executives.

The keynote presentation at last month’s RSA Conference by Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, focused on “The Future of Transportation Relies on Strong Cybersecurity.”

The CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, Sir Ralf D. Speth, commented recently that  “In a connected world, the cybersecurity is as fundamental to your safety as the brakes.”

At UltraSoC, our technology is unique in being able to detect and mitigate cybersecurity breaches in electronic systems in the fastest possible time – crucial for safety-critical systems where human lives are potentially put at risk as a result of cybersecurity threats.

Our mantra has always been that “it’s about the system”. In an individual system-on-chip (SoC), it’s not just about the CPU; it’s not just about software, firmware, or any other individual element. What is more important is zooming in to observe how all the elements – hardware IP from different vendors, firmware, software, and various types of connectivity, work together as a coherent whole, and where the vulnerabilities lie, from a system point of view.

But when we consider the world of transportation, we also need to zoom out and look at the whole system at a macro level. The satellite system which supports navigation decisions is as crucial as the brakes on an individual vehicle. The city system controlling traffic flows exposes new points of vulnerability. The emerging air traffic control standards and systems for delivery and transportation drones or even the charging points for electric vehicles can be an entry point for new cyber attacks. All of these systems need to be secure against current and emerging threats both as stand-alone elements, and functioning together as a coherent ecosystem.

One of the first deliverables of our SecureCAV project, partially funded by Innovate UK, will be a comprehensive list of potential vulnerabilities in the connected autonomous vehicle ecosystem – and we look forward to sharing that with our customers and partners as we jointly develop solutions to protect systems and citizens.

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