Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hacking the Automated Car

I was pleased to come across a site recently from a group called the Center for Automotive Embedded Systems Security (CAESS).  The Center is a collaboration between the University of Washington, the University of California San Diego, and the US National Sciences Foundation.  It deals with, as the name suggests, making computers in automated driving systems secure.

The computer security of automated cars and automated driving systems is something I have given thought to over the past 15 to 20 years, more as the capabilities of our computers have increased.  There are certain things that can be done to reduce the opportunity to hack automated driving systems.. The one that springs to mind is to hardwire as many functions as possible so that they cannot be hacked.  Hardwire refers to making the physical design of the chip control the program that runs on it.  Such a chip, once made, cannot be reprogrammed, only replaced.  Obviously there are disadvantages to such an approach, but in a systems where safety needs to be paramount, we may need to live with those disadvantages.

Heavy security needs to be built in from the bottom up.  And frankly, what can already be done to hack the rudimentary systems in cars is scarey enough.  Stay tuned for more.

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