Security module protects automotive electronics against hacking and tampering

November 22, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Toshiba Electronics Europe (TEE) has revealed a security module for automotive microcontrollers, which meets advanced industry standards aimed at protecting vehicle electronics against hacking, tampering and software IP theft.

The Toshiba Security Module (TSM) was developed at the company's European Automotive LSI Development Centre (ELDEC) in Duesseldorf, (Germany) and will be built into future generations of the company’s automotive microcontrollers. The module’s firmware is, as a first release step, compliant with the Secure Hardware Extension (SHE) version 1.1 specification of the Herstellerinitiative Software (HIS), a technical collaboration between five leading German car makers.

Toshiba’s TSM is implemented as a hardware security module with its own sub-CPU core that manages a versatile symmetric AES-128 cryptographic engine along with other security elements. As a result the TSM provides high security and tamper resistance without consuming precious host microcontroller CPU resources.

The TSM will help the automotive industry prevent intellectual property theft or manipulation, which is a significant threat as an increasing proportion of innovations in new car models are now software based. In addition, the security afforded by the SHE-compliant TSM can protect car owners against abuses such as tampering with odometer settings, or sub-standard servicing by unqualified agents, Toshiba claims.

The company plans to implement its TSM in future variants of its automotive microcontrollers based on the ARM Cortex processor architecture, and will release software libraries to support the new devices. Future updates of the TSM compliant with upcoming new standards including TSM firmware updates are planned. The related software libraries for the main microcontroller CPU will enable developers to design in accordance with the latest version of the automotive industry’s common software infrastructure promoting modularity, scalability, transferability and re-usability.

First TSM-enabled microcontrollers are expected to begin sampling in Q2/13.