SecForCARs is a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research that investigates issues related to the security of future connected, autonomous vehicles.
Reliable sensors such as cameras, radar or lasers provide vehicles with the most accurate possible image of their environment, paving the way for autonomous driving. Intelligent algorithms process the data provided by vehicle sensors and infrastructure. They automatically make driving decisions and translate these into instructions for the actuating elements: for the drive, steering or brakes.
However, new intelligent functions in the vehicle are only one part of the solution for future mobility. Networked systems are just as important. They ensure that vehicles not only act intelligently within themselves and support the driver, but also benefit from communication with other vehicles and the infrastructure. However, this also harbors dangers: The more networked a vehicle is, the more points of attack it offers for external manipulation or data misuse. If unauthorized persons access driving functions, this can even endanger human lives.
While functional safety – i.e., the correctness and reliability of driving functions – is already at a high level, protection against attacks on driving functions still needs to be implemented on an equal footing.
Goals and Procedure
The aim of the project is to research methods, procedures and tools for safeguarding critical vehicle communication. The focus is on the control loops distributed in the vehicle, which run from the sensor to the data to be processed in the control units to the actuators such as steering or brakes. The functional vehicle architecture is to be expanded to include new, innovative security mechanisms that make attacks on the control loops much more difficult.
In addition, the project team is developing tool-supported design, analysis and test procedures. These are used to identify and evaluate vulnerabilities that enable attackers to spy on and manipulate control loops. Protection against attacks and functional safety are considered together, taking into account possible interactions.
Innovations and Perspectives
The connected, autonomous vehicle is the future of the automotive industry. But only if manufacturers and suppliers adequately implement security in all its aspects will they gain the trust of users in future technologies. The project makes a significant contribution to this with a comprehensive security assessment of the vehicle architecture including sensors, data fusion and control.
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