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Improving security of connected cars

Posted: 19 Aug 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ECU  sensor  Internet of Things  IoT  Trusted Platform Module 

Automotive vehicles with advanced features that we have today use hundreds of sensors and electronic control units (ECUs). These devices communicate through gateways with external systems such as remote monitoring centre at a manufacturer, a government traffic management system or other different devices in the Internet of Things.

As modern cars increase their complexity and connectivity to external networks, they become more vulnerable to attacks that could pose a threat to passenger safety such as a hacker disrupting the steering controls of an automobile.

As software upgrades currently account for half of all automotive vehicle recalls, enabling and assuring secure remote vehicle software upgrades would be more convenient for consumers and less expensive for manufacturers than the hands-on approach most commonly used today.

Verification of the trustworthiness of all participating computing elements is central to meeting the connected automotive security requirements. A trusted system is one whose identity and integrity posture are assured and verified before that system is authorised to perform a specific function or to access or update specific information. A high level of trust can be affordably enabled by using a Trusted Computing Group's Trusted Platform Module (TPM) to support a hardware-based root-of-trust.

TPMs already have expanded from use in PCs to many other devices, including hard disc drives, mobile phones and servers. The TCG recently formed a working group for embedded systems to develop specifications for using TPMs in very demanding environments such as automotive vehicles, network equipment and Internet of Things devices.

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The TCG offers thin and rich approaches to automotive security.

In April, TCG members Fujitsu and Toyota InfoTechnology Center presented a feasibility demonstration at the RSA Conference and the Society of Automotive Engineers International World Congress and Exhibition of successful mainstream automotive applications that leverage the TPM and the Trusted Network Communications specifications. These specifications are currently deployed in hundreds of millions of PCs, servers, tablets, phones and network equipment devices such as routers, switches and access points.

This approach can:

  • Measure and report on the integrity of firmware and software within ECUs.
  • Create, store and manage cryptographic keys in ECUs.
  • Provide attestation and assurance of identity of ECUs.
  • Support secure remote and local firmware and software updates.
  • Support anti-rollback protection and secure memory.
  • Create certifiable audit logs for all operations
  • The TPM 2 Library specification allows for the definition of multiple platform TPM profiles. This sub-setting provides for cost-effective application-specific TPM implementations that will increase their ease of use.

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