Research alliance develops new approaches

Powerful IT security for the car of the future

Joint press release by AUDI AG, ESCRYPT GmbH, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied and Integrated Security (AISEC), the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design (IEM), the Free University of Berlin, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, Infineon Technologies AG, Itemis AG, Mixed Mode GmbH, Robert Bosch GmbH, SCHUTZWERK GmbH, the Technical University of Braunschweig, the Technical University of Munich, the University of Ulm and Volkswagen AG (associate partner).

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same time, the automotive industry is working on completely connected and automated models whose electronics architecture will differ greatly from that of existing vehicles. It will have to record a lot more data and process it reliably in a far shorter time. And it will be designed to directly control all driving functions, which also increases security requirements. 

With its focus on self-driving cars, SecForCARs stands out clearly from previous research initiatives relating to IT security in automobiles. Connected cars have the potential to offer many advantages in autonomous driving. For example, they improve safety when they warn each other about road damage or black ice. Yet the on-board electronics also need to be protected against external attacks. To this end, the project partners aim to explore and evaluate innovative mechanisms.

SecForCARs is looking at a wide range of questions: How can connected and autonomous cars be developed so as to be more secure? How can such vehicles be tested for security gaps? How can car makers and technology partners ensure that gaps that arise later are eliminated as quickly as possible? 

The project brings together experts from the fields of IT security and autonomous driving. The car makers involved are Volkswagen AG and AUDI AG. The supplier industry is represented by Infineon Technologies AG and Robert Bosch GmbH. ESCRYPT GmbH, Itemis AG, Mixed Mode GmbH and SCHUTZWERK GmbH represent tool manufacturers and the security industry. Selected research institutes and universities ensure that the latest results from research are transferred to the project. They include the University of Ulm, the Technical Universities of Braunschweig and Munich, the Free University of Berlin, the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, and the Fraunhofer Institutes AISEC and IEM. SecForCARs will run until March 2021.

SCHUTZWERK in the joint project SecForCARs

SCHUTZWERK GmbH contributes its expertise in the field of technical IT security analyses of vehicles, vulnerability disclosure, ISMS, and risk management to the project. SCHUTZWERK is particularly involved in the development of new methods and tools for the security assessment of autonomous vehicles.

As a consulting company with core competence for independent security testing, SCHUTZWERK regularly conducts IT security assessments of vehicles and other embedded systems (e.g. IoT devices or machines in the Industry 4.0 space). In addition to conceptual and technical testing methods, simulated hacker attacks, so-called penetration tests, are also used.