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    Hardware meets software to secure connected cars

    By Majeed Ahmad | September 10, 2017

     

    The wake-up call delivered by car hackers like Charlie Miller has put the automotive industry into a proactive mode on how to secure increasingly connected vehicles. And the quest for sophisticated security solutions for connected cars is opening new venues for collaboration between chipmakers and software vendors.

    Take, for instance, BlackBerry’s QNX Hypervisor 2.0 software platform that Qualcomm has adopted in its Snapdragon™ 820Am automotive SoCs for the instrument cluster and infotainment systems. What QNX Hypervisor 2.0 does is partition and isolate the safety-critical subsystems from non-safety-critical subsystems.

    So even if a car hacker is able to access the infotainment system through a non-critical ECU, he won’t be able to access safety-critical areas like steering, brakes, or engine via car’s digital instrument cluster.

    QNX Hypervisor allows automotive chipsets to run concurrent operating systems in order to separate safety-critical environments from non-critical environments.

    The Hypervisor 2.0 is based on BlackBerry’s QNX SDP 7.0 64-bit embedded operating system. It’s a real-time Type 1 Hypervisor platform that creates virtual software containers, which in turn, isolate any hiccup or breach in vehicle’s functional domain. So it doesn’t impact or create vulnerabilities in other domains of the car.

    Another notable collaboration addressing security challenges in connected cars involves NXP and Argus Cyber Security. NXP has integrated Argus’ Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) into its MPC5748G microcontrollers.

    The IDPS software employs deep packet inspection (DPI) algorithms to enable automotive chips detect and prevent advanced cyber-attacks in real-time. Argus’ software solution is AUTOSAR compliant and offers over-the-air (OTA) updates.

    These collaborations are a testament that no one company can manage the task of securing connected cars. And that hardware and software components go hand-in-hand to prevent security breaches in the cars of the future.