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Self Driving Cars Need Encryption

self driving cars in automotive cybersecurity

It’s agreed that self-driving cars have the potential to be one of the most impactful technology trends in the coming decade. While many fear the idea of a highway full of AI-driven cars with non-attentive human passengers, advocates claim driverless cars can offer increased travel efficiency, less congestion on the roadways, fewer accidents, and more free time for would-be drivers. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizes 5 levels of vehicle automation, with the highest, Level 5, being completely automated with no human assistance. While some manufacturers have pledged to have level 5 cars available in the next 5 years, no one can be certain just how far away we are from the widespread proliferation of this technology, as much depends on regulation, road infrastructure, and consumer reception. What is apparent is that the higher the level of automation with the vehicle, the greater the need for network connectivity and security. This connectivity is achieved in two ways.

The first is vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity, which allows vehicles to communicate with each other and augment their own onboard abilities to detect hazards, avoid traffic, etc. It gives the vehicle the ability to utilize the vehicles around them for crowd-sourced information. The second is connectivity between a vehicle and its manufacturer’s remote infrastructure. This will allow the manufacturer to maintain connection with the vehicle, install updates, issue recalls, receive passenger feedback, distribute paid content or features, and more.

This reliance on connectivity coupled with a multitude of potential safety risks makes the utilization of data encryption and authentication essential to the self-driving car industry. It’s critical that each vehicle authenticate and decrypt all information it sends and receives. Futurex’s manufacturer class technologies can be implemented in all aspects of vehicle connectivity, to include:

  • Driver authentication,
  • Cryptographically securing vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and
  • Cryptographically securing vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

Futurex’s ESM1000 General Purpose Endpoint Security Module provides an ideal solution for each of the above scenarios. This compact device (slightly larger than a cell phone) offers the trusted reliability of Futurex’s main hardware security module line, but with a small form factor making it perfect for the automotive industry. With an onboard ESM1000, the vehicle’s Internal computer would be able to authenticate driver credentials, as well as the information it receives from other vehicles and the manufacturer. This will give passengers the peace of mind found only in knowing that your self-driving vehicle is only receiving the right information, from the right source, every time.

If you are interested in exploring Futurex solutions in the automobile industry, contact a Solutions Architect today.

“Federal Automated Vehicles Policy.” September 2016. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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