Israeli, French partners to launch ‘cyberhack-protected’ autonomous cars

Self-driving vehicles must be highly secure against attacks on data communications.

VEDECOM’S AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE is designed to detect ground markings, recognize signs and adjust speed according to traffic signals, road obstacles and other vehicles. (photo credit: VEDECOM)
VEDECOM’S AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE is designed to detect ground markings, recognize signs and adjust speed according to traffic signals, road obstacles and other vehicles.
(photo credit: VEDECOM)
Hod Hasharon-based startup Karamba Security will team up with French self-driving car company Vedecom Tech, to launch the world’s first “cyberhack-protected” autonomous vehicles, the companies announced on Monday.
Vedecom Tech is in the process of launching a line of completely autonomous, self-driving vehicles, which are expected to be ready for commercial use as early as 2017 in select French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch cities, a joint statement from the companies said. By making use of Karamba Security’s Carwall and Autonomous Security software, the French firm intends to protect the electronic control units of its vehicles against the potential risks of cyber attacks.
“As we bring our first self-driving cars into production, we planned for cybersecurity technology to be part of the car’s design,” said Frederic Mathis, CEO and president of Vedecom Tech. “We evaluated the market extensively and after serious consideration concluded that Karamba Security’s technology is the best way to prevent, not just detect, cyber threats and keep passengers and cars safe.”
Vedecom Tech is a commercial subsidiary of the Vedecom Public Foundation, an organization dedicated to innovation in autonomous transportation.
Its members include the car companies Renault, Peugeot and Valeo.
While communication among vehicles and surrounding infrastructure has the potential to improve driving safety and traffic management, such data transmissions must be highly secure against possible threats. Both the car’s critical components and its electronics system must be protected, as attackers could try to inject malicious messages designed to modify a vehicle’s behavior – either locally or remotely, the companies said.
Karamba’s Carwall and Autonomous Security technology works by hardening the vehicle’s electronic control units against hackers that might try to take control of the car’s safety mechanisms, such as brakes and steering, the firm explained.
The company’s software generates a “call graph” – a control flow graph that shows calling relationship within a computer program – that maps all acceptable calling relationships of the vehicle’s electronic control units. Based on that graph, Carwall then performs an inspection to determine whether the system has been hijacked from its expected, factory-based calling sequence, and then blocks any exploit attempts, according to the company.
“This approach uniquely prevents cyber attacks and at the same time satisfies the industry’s intolerance to consumer safety risks resulting from false alarms that mistakenly block legitimate vehicle commands,” Mathis said.
Just last week, Karamba Security was named “Best Auto Cybersecurity Product/ Service of 2017” by TU-Automotive at the automotive technology hub’s annual conference and exhibition in Detroit.
In addition to making use of Karamba’s Carwall and Autonomous Security, Vedecom Tech will also be employing the French firm YoGoKo’s advanced communications tools for its vehicles. YoGoKo’s solutions enable vehicles to maintain Internet connectivity and exchange data with other vehicles, infrastructure and cloud applications in a standardized way and through a diverse array of access sources, the companies said.
YoGoKo and Karamba are working together to harden the former’s externally connected electronic control units and safeguard the vehicles’ advanced communications systems against cyber attacks, the partners added.
Vedecom Tech will be providing a fleet of autonomous vehicles for Europe’s Autopilot Project, an autonomous driving research and development program that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation program. Together, Vedecom Tech, YoGoKo and Karamba Security will be showcasing their partnership this week during the 12th ITS European Congress at the Strasbourg Convention Center.
“We are excited to be the first cybersecurity company to have its technology adopted in commercially available cars,” said Ami Dotan, Karamba Security CEO and co-founder.
“Vedecom Tech is a formidable partner, which has been successfully implementing state-of-the-art technologies that enable self-driving cars to become a reality. Protecting these autonomous and connected vehicles from cyber attacks is Vedecom Tech’s priority, and we are proud to enable this cyber protection.”