Automotive Cybersecurity

SafeCAN protects automotive networks from hacking by authenticating in-vehicle communications with zero network overhead

Karamba Security has announced its new security software SafeCAN that seamlessly protects automotive networks from hacking by authenticating in-vehicle communications with zero network overhead.

To protect vehicles against malicious messages sent by unauthorized Electronic Control Units (ECUs) or via third-party dongles authentication of in-car communications is necessary. Such prevention is essential in light of dongles commonly provided by telematics insurance companies as car companies can’t control the data exchange generated by those dongles, and thus it creates a new attack vector. A Toyota car model was compromised by researchers through a dongle from Progressive Insurance, for example.

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SafeCAN protects automotive networks from hacking by authenticating in-vehicle communications with zero network overhead

Solving this problem is made even more difficult because in-car networks, and especially the CAN bus, are saturated and cannot add authentication data, which consumes network throughput. The resulting lack of in-car authentication leaves the car’s safety systems exposed to malicious commands sent due to such dongle-based attacks or hacked over-the-air (OTA) in-vehicle updates.

SafeCAN is the automotive industry’s first cybersecurity solution to offer in-vehicle network authentication with zero network overhead. It can be implemented without overtaxing the car’s internal communications to protect and authenticate CAN bus communications.

It enables automobile manufacturers to seamlessly harden the networks to secure the car’s safety systems. There is no need to change network protocols, or add any additional network packets to ensure the authenticity of source-destination authentication and overall in-vehicle network authentication.

By offering seamless encryption for ECU communication, SafeCAN hardens the network leading to and from the car’s safety systems and ensures that only legitimate commands are received by the car’s safety systems. Commands originating from invalid sources are ignored.

In addition to hardening the car networks against physical attacks, SafeCAN enables secure OTA updates from the cloud to any ECU in the car. OTA products use secure channels from the OEM cloud to the primary ECU, which serves as the OTA’s entry point in the car. However, due to lack of network authentication, attackers may hack the car, impersonate an OTA update and deploy malicious software on safety ECUs. By hardening the network between the OTA primary ECU to the in-vehicle safety systems, target ECUs will not accept changes, unless it was authenticated by SafeCAN.

SafeCAN helps automakers and tier-1 providers meet their security goals and comply with regulations such as those set out in the United States by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s newly published federal guidance, Automated Driving Systems (ADS): A Vision for Safety 2.0, as well as the guidelines defined in the SELF DRIVE Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Similar guidelines are emerging worldwide.

SafeCAN complements and extends Karamba’s Autonomous Security Carwall product to provide end-to-end in-vehicle security. Carwall hardens externally-connected ECUs by sealing their binaries according to factory settings. This prevents cyberattacks and in-memory attacks from compromising the car ECU’s, while eliminating false positives that risk consumers’ safety. Together, SafeCAN and Carwall assure car safety by blocking hackers at the gate and by providing secure in-car traffic and authenticated OTA updates.

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