Secunet demos near-production security platform for connected cars

November 01, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automotive online connections represent a challenge to electronics designers since they are more difficult to protect against cyber threats than a PC or a smartphone. At the Freescale Technology Forum in Tokyo, IT security company Secunet and software vendor OpenSynergy showcased a jointly developed near-production system that protects a vehicle's internal electronics against cyber attacks.

The difficulties to protect connected cars against result from the limited computing resources available as well as from the negative impact of security measures to the real-time behaviour. The demonstrator presented by Secunet and OpenSynergy identifies attacks and prevents attackers from intruding into the internal data networks of the vehicle. The system, called Application Control Unit (ACU), deduces the access rules from the specifications of the internal network.

The ACU provides hardware-based defense against connected vehicles, claims Secunet. It makes use of the standards-based COQOS software platform developed by OpenSynergy. By means of virtualization techniques, COQOS facilitates integrating disparate software systems on a common hardware platform. The software generates multiple logical software partitions. In each partition, host operating systems such as Linux or Android as well as automotive-specific functions can be executed in parallel. No entity in this context has direct access to hardware and interfaces. This secure shielding results in a high degree of ruggedness and reliability. For this reason, only one ECU is required to implement multiple functions. The ACU runs on top of COQOS in a separate partition.

The concept demonstrated by Secunet and OpenSynergy enables OEMs to implement different security levels such as internet access and safety-relevant internal network applications on the same hardware platform. The solution is updateable and thus can be utilized for future security approaches as new applications appear on the market. For this reason, it offers OEMs the chance to implement and introduce car apps independently of the usual automotive design cycles.