PORTLAND, Ore.—Freescale Semiconductor Inc. Tuesday (March 1) introduced the first automotive security module compliant with the secure hardware extension (SHE) supported by European automobile makers Volkswagen, Porsche, BMW, Audi and Daimler.
As electronics takes over more and more control of a car's engine, body and safety functions, hardware security modules will be necessary to prevent unauthorized access to on-board systems, according to a consortium of European automobile makers.
"Freescale is the first to offer an on-chip cryptographic services engine using the SHE specification published by a consortium of European car makers," said Brad Loane, an automotive marketing manager at Freescale. "By moving the security keys into hardware instead of software, it becomes much easier to assure secure and trustworthy transmission of information between electronic components."
With more and more drive-by-wire functions in modern automobiles—from remote startup to automated parking—on-board software security systems offer unwarranted opportunities both to thieves stealing cars and to hackers wishing to eavesdrop of even cause a crash. Freescale's cryptographic services engine, on the other hand, aims to keep the security keys safe from hackers in a protected memory, creating an authenticated software environment that allows for distributed key ownership.
The new MPC56xx family 32-bit Qorivva microcontroller, built on Power Architecture, enables encrypted data and authentication to prevent hackers from performing illegal operations during driving or even while in the shop, such as turning back a vehicles mileage. It also prevents a car from being stolen by activating immobilizers as well as preventing the automotive engine control unit from being removed and used illegally on other vehicles, according to Freescale.
The high-end MPC564x Qorivva microcontroller with 300 DMIPS performance and the on-chip cryptographic services engine typically serves as a gateway extending secure body control to end-nodes managed by low power MPC560xD microcontrollers over controller area network (CAN).
This security arms race is escalating into a new domain in which hackers can cause exceptionally dangerous and hard to find faults. I hope that there will still be some means for inventors to implement innovation - like creative Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) power control systems.
With all the drive-by-wire capabilities of modern electronic-laden automobiles, its a wonder that hackers have not started causing havoc. I've heard of breaking off mirrors to hack the on-board diagnostic connector, but even that route will be blocked by these hardware security modules.
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