Saturday 10 December 2016

Your Car Could Be Vulnerable To The Hackers


Modern cars boast fantastic interconnectivity between your smartphones and car’s computers with some vehicles even providing wifi.

In theory, any wireless link could prove to be the conduit hackers need to launch an attack on your car remotely.

With modern cars only becoming increasingly more connected, the risk of cyber hacking and being hijacked is also greater.

Automotive electronics giant HARMAN is pioneering the new field of automotive cyber security, as the prospect of cyber attacks on vehicles becomes an increasingly serious one.

“A few years ago the concept of automotive cyber security was largely confined to industry experts,” says HARMAN’s Asaf Atzmon, Director, Business Development and Marketing, Automotive Cyber Security.

Now it’s a topic that consumers are asking about.

“According to a recent survey, in some countries as many as 59 per cent of buyers are actively concerned about the prospect of car hacking.”

To date, there hasn’t been a single instance of malicious car hacking but various security bosses have attempted to raise awareness of the issue.

A security expert crashed a Jeep Cherokee into a ditch from a sofa 10 miles away last year to try and highlight a potential cyber weak spot.

It was also reported on that hackers could use your car’s radio signal to remotely hijack your car.

HARMAN has devised a specially-developed 5+1 security framework which consists of a series of layers that protects the car’s head unit from being compromised.

1. At the deepest level, a secure hardware platform provides a safe place to store cryptographic keys and execute highly-sensitive operations in a secured manner.

2. Safety-critical functions are isolated from the infotainment system using what’s known as a hypervisor. It is a concept that was initially developed for supercomputers.

3. The next level controls access to the memory, storage and peripherals.

4. The sandbox function keeps newly downloaded applications separate from the core system so they can be disabled and removed if they’re found to be harmful.

5. The fifth level is the network protection system. This controls the flow of information into and out of the car, looking for any signs of intrusion.

Detection and Prevention (IDS/IPS) system and smart firewall to protect critical communications within the car.

It continuously monitors the vehicle to provide real-time detection of malicious communications and prevents them from reaching the vehicle’s critical systems.

This level has the ability to spot patterns and uncover a threat, even if the threat is attempting to disguise itself as a legitimate function such as a software update.

6. The final ‘plus one’ level is the ability to install over-the-air (OTA) updates to various systems within the car such as the navigation, engine management and infotainment systems. By keeping the software up to date, it helps to ensure that the car is protected at all times.

HARMAN claim that this creates a ’virtually impenetrable shield’ around the safety-critical functions and already working with a number of car makers to employ this technology on future models.

“Ultimately, it’s all about eliminating the risk of intrusion,” concludes Atzmon.

“The car industry will need to reassure consumers that their connected cars are safe. By 2020 it’s expected there will be nearly a quarter of a billion of them on the world’s roads.

“This number will continue to grow but only if the car industry can provide the protection that those consumers have to come to expect from their other electronic devices.”



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