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Keeping connected cars secure

John Day

John Day

Posted Apr 17, 2012

As connected vehicle technology evolves, security is an increasing concern. Franz Walkembach, senior product manager for automotive solutions at Wind River, addresses the issue in an article worth reading (

“The message is clear,” he writes. “Consumers want access to their important data at all times,” which means continuous connectivity and optimum integration between cars and personal mobile devices loaded with apps and personalized data.

But the more connected we are, the more risk we face, such as “malicious code or malware triggering equipment malfunctions by infiltrating the electronic control system of the vehicle via the unknowing use of infected MP3 music files or an app downloaded onto the car’s IVI (in-vehicle infotainment) system,” or someone gaining access to the vehicle’s network via the on-board service interface.

According to Walkembach, connected car security must include:

•             cable-connected and wireless communication;

•             the IVI system;

•             sensors, electronic control units (ECUs), etc., including those for remote management, and

•             manufacturer-provided services and third-party apps.

Taking all of that into account will require extensive collaboration among automakers and suppliers. “Take for example the complexities and deep coordination required to manage the numerous sensors in a vehicle, such as GPS or movement sensors that react when a vehicle is moved suddenly,” Walkembach suggests.

One promising security strategy for connected vehicles is the use of embedded virtualization and hypervisors to separate safety-critical components from components on the same hardware platform that do not require safety certification. Walkembach notes, “The growing trend of multi-core and embedded virtualization paves the way for greater reliability, shorter boot times, and cost optimizations as well as allows for brand-new automotive use cases and applications previously too difficult to achieve without hypervisor technology.”

Keeping connected cars secure is a multifaceted challenge of increasing concern to both automakers and suppliers. It’s clearly a challenge that must be met.

embedded virtualization, hypervisors, connected vehicle, Wind River, IVI (in-vehicle infotainment), malware

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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