Making car electronics safe again – a new security architecture for networked embedded devices

MuhlbergTobiasModern vehicles are managed by a network of control processors that interpret sensor readings and operate actuators. These processors control much of the car’s behavior and safety functionality, intervening when necessary e.g. for braking, steering, switching on the lights, popping up the airbags, optimizing the powertrain output, and much more. But only fairly recently these networks have also been hooked up to the outside world. This renders them vulnerable to attacks by hackers, a vulnerability for which today there is no effective mitigation available. Jan Tobias Mühlberg, research manager at imec – DistriNet – KU Leuven, explains how researchers at imec have risen to the challenge. The result is a new security architecture for networked embedded devices, carefully designed to fit in today’s environments, a solution ready to be used to secure not only smart vehicles, but also other critical infrastructure, e.g. medical equipment, smart buildings, or power grids.