With the global auto sector moving towards autonomous and connected vehicle concept, the necessity for Cybersecurity in vehicles has increased in recent years. Almost all OEMs and Tier 1s developing or contributing to autonomous vehicle are looking for next generation solution in Cybersecurity space. Secure Things is one of a few players offering critical automotive Cybersecurity solutions and looking to take the autonomous vehicle revolution to the next level. Vishal Bajpai, Co-Founder & CEO of Secure Things discusses with Jaishankar Jayaramiah of Automotive Lead about the company’s capabilities in auto cybersecurity space and its future plans.
Experts say top cybersecurity concerns of OEMs are “External Interface Security (Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS RF”, “In Vehicle Network Security”, Secure Over-the-air updates”, Secure Messaging”, “Host/Embedded Device Security”, “Sensor Security – Reliability of the data coming out from sensors”, “ Automotive Analytics – getting insights on the vulnerability components and the vehicle behaviour”.
Secure Things, a US- headquartered automotive cyber security leader, has solutions to address auto cybersecurity concerns of the global autonomous of connected vehicle industry. Talking to Automotive Lead.
Vishal Bajpai, Co-Founder & CEO of Secure Things said, “Secure Things provides comprehensive security capabilities to prevent cyber-attacks on vehicles. Powered by extensive internal threat researchers and machine learning, if builds artificial intelligence that allows vehicles to defend against attacks from multiple sources.”
Vishal’s extensive research and work with automotive cybersecurity as well as OEMs and Academia are grounded in years of domain expertise. Vishal has contributed to over 25 IPs (Intellectual Properties) including 14 plants filled with the US PTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) in different domains including loT, Connected/In-Vehicle Embedded Security, Deduplication, Cloud and Information Availability.
By 2020, Bajpai predicts that around 50% of the vehicles would be connected to the internet and by 2022, 100% would be. This gives a very big attack vector to the hackers to attack the vehicles.
Currently the automotive cyber-security market is in an early stage where majority of the customers are orienting themselves to the new reality and planning cyber-attack counter strategies.
A small percentage of early adapters have deployed cybersecurity solutions.
Potential Cyber Threats
Internal car architecture is not designed for cybersecurity. User data such as driving patterns and routes, as well as corporate data and geolocation logs can be stolen directly from infotainment unit as all mobile phones remain connected to them. Various electrical components in a car (electronic control units or ECUs) are connected via an internal network. Thus, if hackers manage to gain access to a vulnerable, peripheral ECU- for instance, a car’s Bluetooth or infotainment system – from there they may be able to take control of safety critical ECUs like its brakes or engine and wreak havoc.
Hackers use hi-tech equipment
Telematics and remote control, such as keyless entry have increased the cyber-attacks in vehicles. Hackers use hi-tech equipment to re-program car keys. By manipulating the wireless signals used by car keys, they can start the vehicle. V2X Communications allow road vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, with pedestrians and roadside infrastructure as well as with other road users. V2X communications in ITS are far more vulnerable to attack than wired networks. Breached backend update server could potentially launch attack on many cars simultaneously using OTA channel. OBD dongles connected in cars can also be hacked. During the authentication process, the dongle sends any connecting device various pieces of information that can be used to obtain the user-supplied authorization PIN. The PIN can be brute-forced offline. CAN Bus is used to support communications between ECUs within the vehicle. It was designed as a closed network, and therefore implements no security features such as message encryption or authentication. An unauthorized party that gains access to the bus can block legitimate messages and transmit illegitimate ones. Both actions can cause unwanted effects within the vehicle.
Some of the key features of Secure Things Products and Services include:
Behaviour learning based network protection to prevent from malicious inbound or outbound traffic.
Secure firewall to prevent any unwanted traffic flow to the in-vehicle network.
Machine learning based in-vehicle network protection.
Protects ECUs integrity to block any unwanted changes.
Protection from diagnostic messages-based attack.
Deep packet inspection-based detection with attack contextual info.
Work seamlessly with Secure ECU and Secure Telematics to provide defence-in-depth multi-layer security solution that makes it almost impossible for the hacker to attack the vehicle.
Alert aggregation and correlation, analyse attack trends.
Automotive sensors can be breached to disrupt vehicle operations. Over-the-air (OTA) updates can alter safety-critical systems, such as steering, braking, and engine-control software, or even remotely fix faulty vehicle software while parked in your garage. OTA platforms allow for two-way communication. If a car is connected to an unsecured WiFi network, hackers may be able to access some information stored on the vehicle, ranging from who owns the car to GPS data showing where it has been.
Secure Things Solution of Layers
The very first layer of the solution provides protection from various external interfaces, both remotes as well as physical and prevents the malicious code from entering the vehicle. Second layer of defence, on the device provides stringent intelligent checks based on machine learning to block attackers from installing any malware inside the vehicle devices including telematics unit, infotainment until or any other ECUs. It maintains the integrity of the firmware and detects any unauthorized changes.
“SecureThings team has a rich experience on Cyber Security & Automotive domain and understands the security loopholes that can cause problem.”
Third level of defence is protecting entire in-vehicle network. It uses different machine learning techniques to learn the network behaviour and uses this intelligence for real-time identification of any malicious activity and prevent threats from entering the vehicle network. The cloud based analytics platform continuously monitors for anomalous behaviours and threats, analyses the attack trends and provides proactive recommendation to enable detection and remote immunization of the fleet.
Secure Things provides a real-time cyber security solution for the connected vehicles. The multi-layered cyber security solution protects vehicles beginning from the telematics unit, ECU Security to the in-vehicle network security. The solution is adaptive and builds intelligence using machine learning based algorithms.
The big data analytics platform provides analytics for attack trends, forensic analysis, awareness and insights to the OEMs and suppliers take a well-informed business decisions, avoid costly vehicle re-calls help in future architecture changes with its analysis, proactive alerts & trends.
Security must begin from design phase, emphasized Bajpai. It is vital for OEMs to understand potential risks and vulnerabilities by assessing the life-cycle of automotive production. Secure Things provides a detailed recommendation and best practices to build security from the very early stage of the development.
“Our goal is to take connected and autonomous vehicle revolution to the next level by assuring end-to-end security and safety of the user while they stay connected,” he added.
The company is working on more machine learning and deep packet inspection-based protection techniques both at device and CAN network level.
Secure Things provides comprehensive security capabilities to prevent cyber-attacks on the vehicle.
Following are the solutions provided by Secure Things.
Secure Things automotive security solution provide comprehensive in-vehicle real-time security capabilities ranging from preventing unknown remote connections, preventing unwanted binaries installation on the devices, secure communication, securing entire in-vehicle network to identify anomalies to prevent any malicious action to be taken inside the vehicle. It uses behaviour analysis and machine learning to identify anomalies, detect and prevent malicious activities.
Provides intelligent analytics by collecting data from vehicles, monitoring the fleet behaviour and analysing attack trends. It does alert aggregation & correlation to understand the hackers’ behaviour and provide proactive recommendation to secure the vehicle ecosystem.
This is a cloud-based solution but can also be deployed in a Security Operations Centre (SOC) for live monitoring and actions. It provides different at-a-glance views on the user-friendly dashboard as well as provides a capability to extend the platform based on the OEM specific views. It provides awareness and insights to the OEMs and suppliers to take a well-informed business decisions, avoid costly vehicle re-calls and can also help in future architecture changes.
Automotive Risk Assessment
Secure Things team has a rich experience on Cyber Security & Automotive domain and understands the security loopholes that can cause problem. Security starts from design phase. Secure Things’ experts can help OEMs understand the potential risk and vulnerability by assessing the life-cycle of automotive production. It can provide a detailed recommendation and best practices to build security from the very early stage of the development.
This layer learns the system behaviour and builds intelligence using deterministic and machine learning based approach. Secure Things currently supports both microprocessor (Linux) and micro-controller based devices.
It provides stringent intelligent checks based on machine learning and process profiling to block attackers from installing any malware inside the vehicle devices including telematics unit, infotainment unit or any other ECUs. It maintains the integrity of the device, detects any unauthorized changes and secure communication. It also provides protection from all external interfaces.
External Interfaces Security
Secure Things telematics protection layer learns the network communication behaviour and build rules to protect the devices from any remote attack. It learns the behaviour using different interfaces inter faces including Cellular, WiFi, GPS and Bluetooth.
The company is also building protocol based deep packet inspection and GPS based attacks. Solutions for these would be available soon.
In-Vehicle Network Protection
In-vehicle protection layer can monitor messages received from the network or transmitted to the network and detects the malicious message. It can plugged-into the interrupt service and controller layer to filter any malicious messages.
This layer protects the entire in-vehicle network. It uses deterministic and different machine learning algorithms to learn the network behaviour and uses this intelligence for real-time identification of any malicious activity and prevent threats from entering the vehicle network. In-vehicle network layer protects from multiple use-cases including message level attack (checks each message for tis validity), diagnostic messages-based attacks, DoS attack, Starvation attack, ECU Impersonation. Secure Messaging etc.
Fleet Threat Monitoring & Analytics Engine
Secure Things analytics engine provides different analysis and trends to identify attack behaviour. It collects data from the devices and correlates it to provide insights and awareness.
The cloud-based analytics platform continuously monitors for anomalous behaviours and threats, analyses the attack trends and provides proactive recommendation to enable detection and remote immunization of fleet. The alerts and vehicle suspicious behavior can be send to the analytics engine through existing OEM backend communication channel. Analytics engine dashboard provides a complete threat posture to the entire fleet and provides different analysis. It can also provide analysis & trends per vehicle and detailed threat reports. The engine collects useful information that can identify even any failed attempts on the device.
In addition, Secure Things has protected all its IPs. More than 10 ideas are protected, and provisional patents are filed with US PTO.
Secure Things is working on more machine learning and deep packet inspection-based. Protection techniques both at device and CAN network level. Following are some of features available in next release in third quarter 2019.
- Secure OTA (available in Q2, 2019)
- Advanced Memory Protection for Embedded Devices
- In-Vehicle Network Protection: Ethernet Support
- Trusted Mobility Platform
With autonomous vehicle era at its peak in research, Secure Things looks like strengthening its dominance in the global automotive cybersecurity space. To know more on Secure Things, log on
Interview with Vishal Bajpai
Can you please elaborate about your setup?
We are a products company headquartered in California. USA. Other office we have in Pune, India that is also our largest R&D center. Pune R&D center plays a very critical role and contribution on the products. Research is in our DNA and we dedicate significant time and effort in exploring new areas, identifying new attack vectors and vulnerabilities. We are currently 15 + members and we plan to expand to 40 by Q4, 2019. We welcome fresh ideas and exceptional talent to add value to the company & the product.
When was Secure Things formed and how do you see your journey so far?
We started conceptualization, defining strategies in late 2017 and company was formed in early 2018. Journey so far is beautiful. We are a start-up in this cutting edge field, so there is a lot of excitement, tons of hard work has gone into coming this far. Year 2019 will be an important year for us as we are launching market defining cyber-security solutions as well as an end-to-end Al/machine learning based Trusted Mobility platform geared up for next gen challenges. We are already doing some exciting work with prospective customers and partners.
What is your future plan for the next five years?
We have a clear vision and well defined road-map for the next five years where we plan to provide solutions on Automotive Cyber Security as well as other transportation verticals like Marine. Aerospace and Connected Trains. We have great vision on end-to-end trusted mobility platform and value added features on data monetization. Cyber Insurance is one area where we will have great focus in next couple of years as I see this can change the way with innovative solutions.
Auto Cyber Security is gaining momentum in the past few years following industry talking about autonomous/connected vehicle concept. How do you see this concept gaining importance in the developed European and North American markets (versus) developing markets like Asian countries including India?
It is true that NAM and Europe are much ahead both in terms of technology, adoption through infrastructure support as well as research/exploration being done since many years. But, in India, it is picking up fast. OEMs/Tier 1 suppliers have started putting cyber-security in their priority roadmap. It also helps since many NAE/EU brands have their R&D centers here and India based OEMs/Tier 1 suppliers have international customers. So, I do see a big market in India in next couple of years.
Which is your major market and why?
USA, Europe, APJ are the major markets as the manufactures are already looking into vehicle cybersecurity and have done good investments. These manufacturers are now ready for deploying cybersecurity solutions. As of now, we are open for all OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers but have presence in USA and the Indian market. This covers all the major OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers from USA, Europe, APJ and India.
What is the current size of Global Auto Cyber Security market and where it would be in the next five years?
This is an emerging market where mostly all the OEMs and Tier 1s are focusing. As also confirmed by different surveys that automotive cyber-security is very critical and top two challenges as well as the vehicle owners are also getting aware and very concerned about it while choosing the new vehicle to purchase. Base on different reports and our analysis, the Automotive Cyber-Security market could reach around $ 10 billion by 2025. There is another big market is Trusted Mobility and Data Intelligence as the vehicles are generating a lot of data and keeping some critical information with them.