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How is PKI Technology Safeguarding Smart Cars?

By eMudhra Editorial on February 20, 2023
How is PKI Technology Safeguarding Smart Cars?

Cars are changing. With rapidly advancing technology in the automotive space, it is estimated that a billion smart cars would be on the road in the near future. These smart cars are designed to enhance user expectations of convenience, as well as cater to the sustainability needs of urban areas. Innovations like, self-driving cars guided by real-time traffic coordination are now a reality rather than a vision of the future.

With enhanced connectivity at the core of all technological innovation and connectivity, smart cars are subjected to significant risks of potential privacy breaches and threats of cyberattacks. This not only adds to the identity threat but also is a threat to traffic security.

So the question remains, is there a scalable solution to the inevitable threats of security breaches posed by the connected devices of smart cars? Well, PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) deployment in ECU (electronic control units) & IoT devices used in smart cars is the answer. PKI technology aids reliable end-to-end security and safeguards vehicle-to-everything communication, often known as V2X communication thus, safeguarding smart cars.

Need of PKI for Securing Smart Cars

The number of electric vehicles is rapidly increasing in the market space, constant customer satisfaction depends on a reliable, scalable, and most importantly secure ecosystem. While offering an exceptional driver experience is paramount to the booming smart vehicle industry, lowered security standards can undermine user trust which may result in resistance to acceptance by a wider audience.

Another aspect to think about is, as our vehicles become progressively smarter. The incorporation of software, communication devices, and computer-based hardware devices has become a prerequisite for the smooth functioning of new-age cars. At the core of these very technologies is the principle of enhanced connectivity. These vehicles are often connected to a wired and even wireless network. To be specific, smart cars are based on CAN Bus (Controller Area Network) and V2X communication - a network that enables interconnectivity across the electronic components of the vehicle and is largely responsible for its operation. 

As with any other connected device, the electronic components of these cars act as a data mine and could be exposed to cyber threats. As they rely on the constant transmission of data in between and among an external network, it creates a security weak point that can be exploited by elements associated with both the computerized systems themselves and the information stored in them.

Let us look at a real-life instance of the potential threat a smart car can face in absence of rigorous security in place.

Cars with GPS are a common feature that is available in almost all cars. But do you know, specific data like GPS coordinates are collected by the electronic control units (ECU), giving a potential attacker access to personal information and in some cases even to confidential data? In the worst case, safety-critical ECU like brakes or engines can be hacked in case a hacker manages to gain access to a vulnerable, peripheral ECU, like, Bluetooth or an infotainment system.

Leveraging PKI-based Security Solution for Smart Cars

An evenhanded extrapolation that can be drawn from the aforementioned scenario is, it is more than data that is at risk in case of weak security in smart cars. Hence cyber threats call for a robust security solution. This is where PKI-based automotive security bridges the gap between digital and physical.

PKI technology is at the core of automotive cyber security, which emphasizes an identity-first approach. It ensures encryption, authentication, and identity checks which in turn allows manufacturers to certify that the communication is secured and is coming from a trusted source. Asymmetric encryption and hashing are the two cornerstones of this cutting-edge technology ensuring a secure ecosystem for ECU communication and connectivity. An additional benefit of leveraging PKI in the manufacture and integration of ECU with low computational power, is the minimal footprint, rendering it perfect for deployment.

Even with asymmetric encryption at its core, the question remains how do you ensure the integrity of the keys used in encryption? PKI resolves it by issuing and governing digital certificates, which is essentially assigning a digital identity to the keys used. To dig a little deeper into the PKI ecosystem, there are two main components: a Certifying Authority and digital identity certificates or PKI certificates. A PKI certificate can only be issued by a CA thus attaching a cryptographically verifiable identity to the devices, preventing spoofing or on-the-wire tampering. These certificates are managed as part of the CLM (Certificate Lifecycle Management) process and can be updated or revoked at the individual device level.

Since PKI is as strong as the keys associated with it, an essential condition to consider while deploying PKI into your ecosystem is to choose a trusted Certifying authority as a PKI solution provider

Why Choose eMudhra for PKI deployment?

eMudhra is a Global trust provider that offers a flexible and scalable PKI solution. As a trusted CA, we issue X.509 certificates through emSign root, a globally trusted root for the issuance of certificates like SSL/TLS certificates, and Code Signer Certificates offering device attestation which can be used to verify the authenticity of the hardware.

Our PKI certificates enable manufacturers to plug scalable and reliable PKI solutions into their ecosystem. Asymmetric keys generated as an intrinsic process can be stored within the secure boundaries of a Hardware Security Module (HSM) and deployed in Electronic Control Units (ECUs). It establishes the unique identity for each ECU ensuring its integrity throughout the production and operational life cycle

Our comprehensive Certificate Lifecycle Management suite enables complete automation from issuance, and revocation, to the renewal of the certificates to establish protected communication in business-critical processes. 

We understand the importance of a centralized automative PKI solution infrastructure for streamlined control and governance. eMudhra provides,

  • Unique identity certificate deployment to be used by globally accredited CA for identity assurance of the ECU and IoT devices in smart cars.
  • PKI-based automotive communication security through Code Signer certificates issuance in ECU and IoT ecosystem for secured connectivity and communication.
  • Minimize cybersecurity vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with our on-device key management system regulated by a robust Certificate Policy (CP) and Certificate Practice Statement.
  • Automated Certificate Lifecycle Management suite for simplified issuance and management of certificates. Offered as hosted PKI, managed PKI, or on-prem solution deployments for your trust service or certification authority set-up.
  • Our trust service solutions include SSL certificates, IoT certificates, certificates, and PKI solutions.

To learn more about how eMudhra PKI services can help safeguard smart cars, contact us now!

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