Cellular-Key Solution Augments Commercial-Vehicle Security

Irdeto’s keyless entry system is part of its overall focus on cybersecurity.

Encryption and obfuscation help Irdeto protect both on- and off-highway vehicles. (Irdeto)

Connectivity’s many benefits are matched by security concerns, which has prompted a number of security specialists from many fields to focus their attention on commercial vehicles. Irdeto, which provides security tools and services to disparate industries, is addressing commercial vehicles with cell phone-based keyless entry technology and cybersecurity services.

The company, founded in 1969, lists diverse firms like Charter Communications, Comcast, 20th Century Fox and Alibaba Cloud as customers. As OEMs ramped up their connectivity offerings, Irdeto established its Connected Transport division in 2016. That division addresses overall cybersecurity while also offering a keyless entry system, Keystone, that uses cell phones to give users more control over vehicle access.

“With Keystone, fleet managers can share keys with different people and set limits for speed, geography and other factors,” said Niels Haverkorn, general manager of Irdeto’s Connected Transport division. “Rental companies can set up a cafeteria-style set of services. They can set a price-per-use plan or set limits on operations so users can’t damage equipment. It’s also easy to analyze diagnostics after each use.”

Systems are being deployed on both on- and off-highway vehicles. Haverkorn noted that access can be set for a given time, which is beneficial in markets where users are only authorized to use vehicles for a certain time period. Keystone uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to communicate with a module that’s installed on vehicles. Currently, Irdeto is working with OEMs while selling into aftermarkets, targeting vehicles that have electronic locks and other digital functions that can be accessed via vehicle networks.

Keystone utilizes cloud computing, so Irdeto’s cybersecurity technologies are an important element in its product offering. Irdeto is one of many companies that have stepped in to help vehicle manufacturers deal with the growing danger of cyberattacks. A number of established cybersecurity companies like Cisco Systems, Harman and Continental and startups like Symantec and Karamba Security are also helping transportation companies to head off cyberattacks.

Research organizations like Argonne National Laboratory also focus on cybersecurity, using artificial intelligence to help them predict avenues of attack. The SAE has developed J3061 to help automakers create effective protective schemes. National Institute of Standards and Technology has a number of research projects that should help the industry address evolving threats.

Most companies utilize a defense-in-depth approach, using layered architectures that employ different techniques and strategies to combat different types of threats. “Our technology goes beyond typical encryption. We’ve developed a suite of encryption techniques, and we have several obfuscation policies,” said Todd Offer, head of sales, Americas, at Irdeto. “We start at the ground level, with some tools that assume that the hacker has access to the source code.”

Layered approaches let vehicle and subsystem design teams address different technical requirements. Systems that control window lifts may get light security, while powertrains and safety systems would likely get the most stringent protection. “We’re looking at many different elements, protecting memory, peripherals and operating-system kernels,” Haverkorn said. “We also have to ensure that reverse engineering is not possible.”