secunet and Elektrobit enter technology partnership

Onboard networks should be more secure [Essen, 8th September 2011] Essen-based secunet Security Networks AG and Elektrobit Automotive GmbH from Erlangen have entered into a technology partnership. The first fruit of the cooperation is a system which protects the communication of control units in onboard vehicle networks. The two companies are showcasing the solution at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) from 13th-16th September 2011.

Ever more sensitive data is exchanged between the installed control units within a modern vehicle such as infotainment systems data or vehicle safety data. Since the onboard vehicle network – or bus system – still relies on technology that was first used in automobile engineering 20 years ago, it has not kept pace with today's requirements for secure communication. 

The systems have long been considered obsolete and therefore do not offer any mechanisms for protecting exchanged data. Hackers could manipulate data by exploiting this flaw as soon as they have gained physical access to the bus system.

Together, secunet and Elektrobit have now come up with a solution to protect data on the onboard network from tampering and guarantee its privacy. Elektrobit provides the system components to secure sensitive data independent of the bus system in operation, whilst secunet's contribution is in the form of a background system to carry out the necessary key management. In the past secunet has been involved in integrating key management infrastructures into IT environments used by car manufacturers and in the implementation of production and after sales processes.

At the IAA both companies are using a demonstrator to show the possible consequences of having unencrypted communication between control units rather than encrypted communication.