On the road to secure car-to-car communications
The European SEVECOM project is developing ways to keep car-to-car communications private and secure from hackers. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications should make driving safer, but there are concerns over whether those communication links are safe from outside influences.
Hackers could cause catastrophic damage by sending false messages to vehicles, or they could track individual cars to follow a specific person, such as a public official or celebrity. The SEVECOM project is working with industry participants to create a security architecture that everyone could apply to proprietary car-to-car applications. "There's plenty of secure encryption methodologies, but what doesn't exist is the architecture," says SEVECOM project coordinator Antonio Kung. "SEVECOM brought together stakeholders to agree what building blocks to use, where they should go, and when they should be used."
One important proposal of the project is that car communication should not use a fixed ID tag in its transmission, which would allow individual cars to be tracked. Instead, vehicles should use pseudonyms that change several times, such as every time the ignition is turned on or at regular intervals during a trip.
The research is complicated because an international standard protocol for car-to-car communications has still not been established. "We had to design a flexible architecture so that it could easily be adapted to conform to a standard once it has been agreed," Kung says. "The security module had to be independent of all the other communication technology and protocols involved in transmitting data."
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