Can we trust our cars?

January 21, 2019 // By Balázs Simacsek, NXP Semiconductors
When we talk about automotive security, most people think about protecting cars from thieves. But with the emergence of automated driving, fast expanding connectivity options and ever-increasing complexity, vehicles are vulnerable to new kinds of cyberattacks. In this new environment vehicles need more protection than ever before.

Every day we rely on services and data from the cloud to keep us connected. We want to have the same convenience on the road, so our cars are becoming more connected too. This increases the attack surface (the sum of attack vectors, that represent potential paths for hackers and attackers to exploit vulnerabilities). Every connectivity option represents a potential entry point.


Figure 1: Vehicle Electronics and Security

We also want more safety, comfort and convenience, which increases the complexity of automotive solutions. Most functions of a modern vehicle are controlled by electronic systems. Modern high-end cars have 200+ ECUs (Electronic Control Units) and 200M+ lines of code, making them one of the most complex systems used every day.

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