What is Car Cyber Security

"Can Your Car Be Hacked?", "Hackers Reveal Nasty New Car Attacks", "New Targets for Hackers, Your Car and Your House", "Researchers reveal methods behind car hack", "Car hackers use laptop to control standard car", "Car hacking code released at Defcon". The listed above are just few of the articles regarding car hacking published in the last month alone!

Due to the proliferation of on-board computers, vehicle connectivity, smart infotainment systems and telematics devices, car hacking is becoming an eminent threat to car owners.

Components of our modern vehicles are constantly communicating between themselves: your gearbox gets RPM reading from the engine and speed data from the wheels and shifts gears accordingly. For the sake of simplicity, carmakers are using a very basic message based architecture named CAN bus. Interoperability and mixed fleets required harmonized data transmission systems, so the manufacturers developed few protocols that enable such connectivity. 

As most modern vehicles are now also equipped with cellular connectivity to allow navigation, browsing, video and audio streaming and transmission of car status & location.

This high-tech cocktail creates a real fear to car owners, since the same system compromises the safety of the vehicle. As hackers with some automotive knowledge can intercept the car computers via the telematics and even alter its parameters: report lower speed and demand more torque, disabling breaks and changing engine revs.

In the recent automotive shows we noticed the creation of a new field called Car Cyber Security.
One of the leading firms in this segment is Arilou Technologies. The Company developed a small CANbus based firewall that also authenticates the legality of the on-board devices and the incoming messages. Several automakers are examining Arilou's solutions.


How to convert Telematics from Cost-Center into Profit-Center?

During the last decades, with the proliferation of satellite services, cellular communication and mobility, many firms entered into the vehicle tracking and tracing business, offering simple location services. The main usage of such services is in the event of vehicle theft. Is mostly used by professional operation centers that can, in some cases, even rescue the stolen assets.

As time passed, such firms enriched the offering, by adding more services such as: temperature monitoring, door opening and graphic presentation of all assets on a map. This fact gave fleet owners the freedom to monitor assets on the move, converting soon to a real fleet management system.

Recently, more sophisticated devices can connect into the data communication bus of the vehicle (CANBUS) and read part of the flow of mechanical parameters between the different on-board computers. The raw data can be stored or transmitted to the fleet manager. But such crude data have no use for the owner, as it contains huge amounts of codes, without any feasible way to sort, digest and define an action.

As a matter of fact, all those systems are cost-centers for fleet owners, as they are paying modest monthly fees but getting the payoff only in case of problem. Therefore the industry is moving toward converting telematics to a profit-center.

Only a handful of the top telematics providers is capable of analyzing the diagnostic trouble codes. Traffilog for example, added several layers of Business Intelligence (BI), by selectively collecting data, analyzing it at the vehicle level and transmitting only meaningful events and action-driven alerts to the fleet manager.

The art of telediagnostics does not stop here: Traffilog can even predict future failure of components and schedule predictive maintenance cycles, based on real-time data analysis. The data are correlated with GPS location and G maneuvers, as well as with other analogue or digital sensors.


The Art of Automotive Tele-Diagnostics

Automotive Telediagnostics is a multidisciplinary field, composed of Telematics and Diagnostics. It refers to the ability to read, correlate, analyze and transmit real-time information regarding vehicles, its mechanical status, location, safety and other relevant data. 
The major beneficiaries of telediagnostics systems are fleet owners that can improve safety, performance, saving and efficiency of their vehicles.

In-car connectivity devices are taking care of  Location Based Services and infotainment systems. Such devices are featured with GPS antennas and SIM operated cellular modems. 

At the old times we could detect faulty engine valve by it sound and a compression problem with simple manometer.
Nowadays, with highly sophisticated vehicles, all the monitoring is being done by numerous on-board computers.
So once the technician is connecting the diagnostics computer, he can easily understand the mechanical status of the vehicle and its components. The data includes Diagnostics Trouble Codes (DTC), last installed software versions and much more. The same computer also resets the on-boards chips and upgrades the firmware.

Few of the leading telematics providers, such as Traffilog are combining an in-depth automotive engineering knowledge with complex algorithms capable of sorting all the on-board data, analyze it and then create meaningful events and alerts, delivered in real-time to the fleet owner, the security officer or maintenance manager.

The recipients can take an immediate action regarding the vehicle and the driver, such as to guide him to the closest repair shop, to alert the driver on evolving problem or any other measurement.

This fascinating field is going to grab all commuters' attention. We foresee that the tendency of more and more on-board devices, Machine to Machine (M2M) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I, V2X) will increase in the upcoming years, so the next generation vehicles will communicate with each other and with the road signs, re-route the trip to avoid traffic jams and collisions.