Boosting Cyber Security on the Road

March 29, 2017 | Author: Steve Tengler

Today’s drivers see lots of positive benefits from Internet technology that allows cars to share information over wireless networks. Who doesn’t love the idea of connectivity making roads safer by sounding alerts to prevent car crashes? And a future where cars connect with the broader Internet of Things to integrate with smart watches, homes and more sounds pretty convenient, too.

But there’s a downside. Cyberattacks by hackers over these wireless networks are a real possibility – and with potentially disastrous consequences for driver safety and security.

Last year the FBI, U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a public announcement about software vulnerabilities after security researchers found they could exploit wireless communications vulnerabilities to control vehicle functions.

That means hackers working remotely on a computer could get unauthorized access to vehicle systems, retrieving driver data or manipulating car functions (braking, steering or acceleration, for example, or even starting a car). The 2015 controlled car-hacking demonstration with a reporter from Wired magazine prompted Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles for a software fix.

In a real-world scenario, hackers could wreak havoc on individual drivers via system-wide attacks that could take control of large number of cars from anywhere in the world. Those troublesome scenarios haven’t happened on a broad scale yet, but given hackers’ track record penetrating secure computer systems of banks, retailers and government agencies, automakers understand the urgency for pre-emptive systems that detect and prevent cyber intrusions.

So Honeywell engineers are stepping up to meet the need with a solution that leverages the company’s expertise in protecting homes, aerospace, refineries and other critical infrastructures.

The newly developed result is Honeywell’s small-footprint, embedded Intrusion Detection and Prevention System that detects and reports cyberattacks on cars. Using anomaly detection technology that functions like virus detection software, the system performs real-time data analysis to ensure every message received by the car’s computer is valid.

It can be configured to detect and prevent intrusions, making hacking attempts visible to the automaker and forcing the hacker work much harder to get in. After all, elevating the level of skill and time required to perform a hack is the best defense – essentially forcing hackers to focus their attention on easier targets.

But it’s not just the consumer and commercial auto marketplace that could benefit from Honeywell’s intrusion detection system. It’s applicable for military land vehicles, too, and can be extended to airborne fixed- and rotary-wing vehicles. We currently are in discussions with several vehicle manufacturers as a supplier, with expectations for the system to be available by the end of 2017.

With driverless cars on the horizon and consumers’ growing expectations for connectivity wherever they are, Honeywell’s technology continues to reinforce safety and security for the connected world.

Steve Tengler

Steve Tengler

Steve Tengler is a Senior Director with the Honeywell Automotive Software group, where he oversees a global team of engineers, data scientists and designers. Steve is a proven expert in the field of the Connected Vehicle with over 25 years of experience on some of the country's top automotive teams, such as OnStar, Nissan, Ford and Honeywell. To date, over 90 patent applications feature his work, and he has a master’s in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan.

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