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Secure embedded device updates with software flashing

Posted: 29 Apr 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ECUs  software  firmware update 

More and more devices in our modern world come with a multitude and variety of embedded systems. An obvious example of this trend are today's vehicles, which have several dozen electronic control units (ECUs) that control almost everything, such as air conditioning, electric windows, the engine, and the brake system.

This article focuses on ECUs as a representative example of modern embedded systems, however, the described techniques work equally well for other embedded systems. Several ECUs allow downloading of updated program and data code via a boot loader.

Such software might be a control unit firmware update for fixing bugs, for improving features, or for downloading data such as additional files. The first case is also called a software download or simply flashing (since flash memory is updated).

The download might be performed directly over a diagnostic channel or another available communication channel such as Bluetooth and GSM. Once such vehicle communication channels are opened to the outside world for downloading software, their integrity must be ensured.

View the PDF document for more information.

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