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UltraSoC and Canis Labs partner to secure the CAN bus

UltraSoC and Canis Automotive Labs are looking to address one of the most serious cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the automotive industry: the lack of security features within the CAN bus.

Announcing a partnership the two companies will look to secure the CAN bus, which is commonly used to interconnect in-vehicle systems such as brakes, steering, engine, airbags, door locks, and headlights.

The companies will look to develop hardware-based intrusion detection and mitigation techniques that will include: automatic hardware anti-spoofing; defence against bit-level attacks such as the Bus-Off attack and bit-glitching; and resistance to denial of service (DoS) style attacks.

The collaboration centres on the deployment of Canis Labs’ CAN-HG technology, a new fully-compatible augmentation of the standard CAN bus protocol that includes bus guardian security features, and has the added benefit of being able to carry payloads twelve times larger than standard CAN frames.

When combined with UltraSoC’s semiconductor IP for detection and mitigation of cyber threats, CAN-HG allows designers to secure their CAN bus designs at the hardware level. The cybersecurity capabilities enabled by the collaboration will be able to employ fast bits within the CAN-HG augmented part of a CAN frame to add security information to CAN frames. This can be used by UltraSoC’s protocol-aware monitoring hardware to identify and block suspicious or unauthorised traffic traveling over CAN.

These new capabilities will then be refined and proved for deployment as part of Secure-CAV, which is an ambitious project that seeks to improve the safety and security of tomorrow’s connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

Aileen Ryan, UltraSoC CSO, commented: “Automotive cybersecurity requires an ecosystem approach. We’re delighted to add Canis Labs to our list of partners working in this area. Up to now the industry has been forced to use sticking plaster solutions to defend CAN interconnect, relying on software techniques or perimeter security. Incorporating Canis Labs’ innovative CAN-HG technology into UltraSoC’s products allows us to secure the vehicle ‘from the inside out’: within the underlying electronic hardware.”

CAN is a hugely successful interconnect protocol which emerged in the 1980s in response to the need for an efficient, lightweight interconnection method that could cope with the harsh environments found in vehicles. Today it remains a common choice not only in the automotive industry but also in industrial, cyber-physical and robotics applications. But while it is physically robust, CAN is almost entirely lacking in cybersecurity features.

Most existing approaches to CAN security are software-based, meaning that they are often unable to react quickly enough to prevent protocol-level attacks. Because it is hardware based, a joint Canis Labs / UltraSoC solution can react quickly enough to prevent an attack from completing. This has two implications. First, many exploits rely on creating a “window of opportunity” during which the system is in a vulnerable or unknown state. A fast reaction time can eliminate this window and significantly improve the overall robustness of cybersecurity defences. Second, CAN bus is used in many cyber-physical systems, in which elapsed time equates to distance travelled. A faster response time therefore has significant benefits in terms of mitigating the physical consequences of an attempted intrusion, better protecting the safety of citizens and infrastructure.


Author
Neil Tyler

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