Volkswagen secures vehicle communication with Infineon chip

January 26, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Volkswagen secures vehicle communication with Infineon chip
Not only drivers and passengers, but also the cars themselves are increasingly communicating with electronic partners - for example if the vehicle's software is to be updated remotely or if car-sharing users or service providers such as a parcel delivery service are to be given access to the boot of a car. These communication processes must be protected against manipulation attempts - with systems such as the Optiga Trusted Platform Module from Infineon. Volkswagen has now selected the Infineon chip to protect its vehicles.

TPMs have proven themselves in computers for many years and are now increasingly being used in networked devices on the Internet of Things. Infineon is the first semiconductor manufacturer to offer an automotive-qualified TPM specifically for the networked vehicle. The device meets international security standards and is certified by independent authorities.

Like a gate guard, the TPM protects the external interfaces of the vehicle, such as the infotainment or telematics unit. It checks the identity of the sender and receiver of digital data, such as the manufacturer's backend server. It encrypts or decrypts the data and helps to ensure that only the data actually requested by the driver or manufacturer enters the vehicle.

The cryptographic keys required for these security functions are stored in the TPM like in a safe. Infineon inserts the initial keys in a specially certified security environment. All other keys can be generated, used and stored within the TPM. Thus they never have to leave the TPM and are protected against spying over the network. The TPM is also protected against physical attacks: Even if someone removes the chip from the car, the keys cannot be read without further ado.

In addition, the Optiga TPM 2.0 selected by Volkswagen is prepared for the long product life cycles of automobiles. Its firmware can be updated remotely and thus always kept up to date with the latest security technology - including the cryptographic mechanisms (cryptoagility).

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