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7 promising car tech companies

Posted: 23 Dec 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electric vehicle  wearable  automotive industry  lidar 


Securing connected cars from hackers is high on mind of every car OEM and Tier One.

One star-tup to watch is Trillium based in Japan.

Headed by David Uze, former CEO of Freescale Japan, a small team of Trillium engineers has developed what it calls SecureCAN—"a CAN bus encryption and key management system for protecting payloads less than 8B." Critical to this claim is an ability to handle data "in 8B," instead of the 128bit block the Rijndael algorithm needs for AES-based encryptions.

Because of its ultra-light weight block cipher, Trillium's SecureCAN can encrypt CAN (and LIN) messages in real time, claimed Uze. More specifically, Trillium's symmetric block cipher and key management system allows SecureCAN to "encrypt, transmit and decrypt within the 1ms threshold," he said, necessary for automotive CAN bus real-time apps.

Protecting CAN bus isn't all the automotive industry needs for cyber -security. Uze agrees that cars need multiple security measures.


But Uze pointed out, "CAN is a native unencrypted bus." CAN bus doesn't implement any security features. Further, with CAN bus, it's possible to access every function, including control locks, steering and brakes. All that accessibility makes CAN bus a perfect playground for hackers, he explained.

Trillium won't be at CES but the company will be at the SAE World Congress in Detroit in April.

Obviously, a number of companies are working on a variety of car security mechanisms. NXP is one of the champions for security in connected cars.

Asked about encrypting CAN bus, Timo van Roermund, security architect, NXP's business unit Automotive, told EE Times, "Key management is definitely an important aspect [of it], when crypto is used to protect messages that are exchanged between ECUs." However, he cautioned, "Different OEMs may take different approaches to 'setup' and manage their in-vehicle networks." After all, "There is no (de-facto) standard approach for key management, yet."

Van Roermund pointed out several different countermeasures Tier Ones or OEMs may consider in protecting connected cars from hackers.

They include a mix of the following:

  • Isolating in-vehicle electronics from external interfaces with firewalls
  • Applying strict access control to only allow known/trusted entities (partial) access to in-vehicle systems
  • Further adapting in-vehicle networks, in which systems with similar criticality are clustered in separate networks, to better isolate safety-critical systems
  • Protecting messages exchanged over in-vehicle networks using cryptography (authentication, and maybe also encryption)
  • Using intrusion detection/prevention systems (IPS/IDS) to detect and possibly counter attacks
  • Protecting the ECUs (microcontrollers and their software) themselves through secure boot, secure update and other measures)

- Junko Yoshida
  EE Times U.S.

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