As the connectivity and complexity of modern vehicles increases, so too does the number of potential pathways for cyber crime. The unique collaboration between Ricardo and cyber security specialist Roke aims to ensure digital resilience in this increasingly complex world – and in a recently published white paper the two partners offer useful insights for automakers. In addition, as this expertise is being applied to other sectors, including railways, utilities and critical national infrastructure.
The modern car has come a long way in terms of connectivity compared to
previous generations of vehicles. Just a few years ago, cars were essentially
a mechanical system with discrete electronic modules that remained
disconnected from the world outside. The physical ‘system boundary’ of the vehicle was thus extremely clear – the skin panels, the glassware, and the rubber of the tyres on the road. The commercial interface with the consumer was similarly simple. After purchasing the vehicle from a dealer, the customer would be responsible for maintenance (other than that covered by a modest warranty period) and the purchase of the consumables – fuel, replacements parts, insurance – required for operation
throughout the product’s useful life.
This situation is, however, changing rapidly. The growing sophistication and connected nature of modern vehicles – and the trend towards servitization of automotive supply, from vehicle leasing to ride hailing and ‘mobility as a service’ solutions – means that both the physical/ electronic system boundary of the vehicle and the commercial boundary
with the customer are increasingly complex. Changing ownership models in particular are fundamentally affecting the economics of transport and of vehicle insurance, transferring risk and liability from the driver and their insurer to the vehicle manufacturer and automotive supply chain.
With the advent of ever cheaper and more powerful processors and associated communication technologies, as well as the numerous application innovations based upon these, almost all new vehicles today are connected in a multiplicity of ways. Even in what might be considered a basic conventional vehicle architecture, dealer maintenance and emergency assistance systems such as eCall are likely to be linked via
cellular networks; infotainment systems may include DAB radio, Bluetooth, and WiFi connections; navigation systems will connect with one or more global navigational satellite systems such as GPS; and web-enabled infotainment system apps may use a range of these and other media.
To these interfaces, many users may also add insurance driving assessment
and pay-as-you-drive monitoring and road toll collection systems, and beyondthe over-the-air connections there are many further wired data interfaces to the vehicle, ranging from the OBD port, the infotainment system USB sockets and, for plug-in vehicles, the recharging cable port.
With each of the increasing number of external electronic connections
comes a potential attack vector for hackers to exploit. In addition to the
obvious motivation of motor vehicle theft, personal and vehicle data may be targeted for identity theft or financial fraud. More serious still is the risk that a compromised vehicle could represent an immediate risk to its occupants or to pedestrians and other road users, if safety-critical systems such as steering, braking and powertrain control are undermined.
Ricardo-Roke – a new focus
on digital resilience In 2017, Ricardo and Roke launched a collaboration to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for the design of cyber-resilient systems and infrastructure for the automotive sector. “This collaboration builds upon
the twin foundations of Ricardo’s position as a global leader in technology and innovation throughout the transportation and mobility sectors, combined with Roke’s 60-plus years of experience in cyber security for government and commercial clients,” explains Tebbutt. “It is unique within both the digital security and automotive industries in the way it combines an advanced skill set that cuts across both domains.”
The collaboration aims to work with automakers in order to manage digital
risk throughout the vehicle lifecycle. The approach taken recognizes the
increasing complexity of onboard systems and the fact that the system
boundary of modern vehicles exists within the cloud rather than the physical world. The approach developed by Roke- Ricardo to meet this challenge is termed ‘digital resilience.’
The Roke-Ricardo collaboration has already led to the creation of a new Digital Resilience Lab to help automotive manufacturers design and produce the next generation of secure vehicles and realize the vision of future transport systems. The lab is located at the Ricardo Shoreham Technical Centre and contains a combination of specialist and off-the-shelf technologies to enable the assessment of digital resilience against
a wide range of wired and remote attacks. Made up of both Ricardo and
Roke engineers, the team will be able to conduct ‘test and fix’ exercises on
behalf of automotive customers based on an assessment of acceptable risk.
The lab will also provide validation of new systems, applying the principles
of ‘designed-in’ digital resilience. The facility allows the potential for attack
through a wide range of wireless and other media to be assessed, including OBD II ports and USB.
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