Harman Announces Focus On Cyber Security, Wants To Stop Hackers In Their Tracks

Back in the day, the worst thing that could have happened to your vehicle’s infotainment involved a broken window and a missing head unit. Less adverse outcomes included tapes or CDs stuck inside the head unit, or electrical problems that prevented you from enjoying your music.
HARMAN’s responds to challenges posed by rise of car connectivity 4 photos
HARMAN’s responds to challenges posed by rise of car connectivityHARMAN’s responds to challenges posed by rise of car connectivityHARMAN’s responds to challenges posed by rise of car connectivity
These days, the connectivity features of some in-car entertainment devices have unwillingly created vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities mean nothing to the average Joe, and they are probably avoided by most consumers because nobody cares enough about those cars to crack them.

However, as technology advances and cars get smarter with the aid of infotainment units, hackers have begun to keep an eye on the infotainment business.

As it has already been demonstrated, some standard infotainment units can be hacked. With aftermarket offerings, the situation is different, but some vulnerabilities still exist.

Harman, the corporation that owns Harman Kardon, has announced that it is focusing on a new field — automotive cyber security. According to the supplier, approximately 60 percent of customers are concerned about the possibility of car hacking, so developing a system that eliminates that possibility has become a priority.

While the company does note that no case of a malicious car hacking has been reported, engineers are focusing on developing a solution to prevent this kind of incident from ever happening. We must also note that most the reported hacking demonstrations took place with a cable connected to the vehicle before the procedure.

Harman has already developed a framework that consists of multiple layers to ensure the security of a multimedia unit. This solution is described as a 5+1 framework, which isolates the functions of a vehicle that are controlled by the multimedia unit from the other devices that it operates.

An example of this structure provided by Harman would be preventing a link between the CD player and the braking system. The new setup also involves a “sandbox feature,” which has the role of separating additional downloaded applications from the core system. If they are found to be harmful, they can be removed without hassle.

Other layers of this security framework include over-the-air updates for all the multimedia units, as well as a network protection system that prevents any tampering attempt of the ECU through the multimedia unit or by exploiting its communication protocols.

Harman claims its solution is “virtually impenetrable” when it comes to critical functions, as well as to those systems that store personal data, credit card information, and other kinds of personal data. The German group is already in talks with multiple automakers on the implementation of this system.

press release

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