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SecForCARs: Research alliance develops IT security for the car of the future

Vernetztes Fahrzeug

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project. ESCRYPT contributes its specific automotive security expertise to the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same time, the automotive industry is working on completely connected and automated models whose electronics architecture will differ greatly from that of existing vehicles. It will have to record a lot more data and process it reliably in a far shorter time. And it will be designed to directly control all driving functions, which also increases security requirements.

With its focus on self-driving cars, SecForCARs stands out clearly from previous research initiatives relating to IT security in automobiles. Connected cars have the potential to offer many advantages in autonomous driving. For example, they improve safety when they warn each other about road damage or black ice. Yet the on-board electronics also need to be protected against external attacks. To this end, the project partners aim to explore and evaluate innovative mechanisms.

SecForCARs is looking at a wide range of questions: How can connected and autonomous cars be developed so as to be more secure? How can such vehicles be tested for security gaps? How can car makers and technology partners ensure that gaps that arise later are eliminated as quickly as possible?

The project brings together experts from the fields of IT security and autonomous driving. The car makers involved are Volkswagen AG and AUDI AG. The supplier industry is represented by Infineon Technologies AG and Robert Bosch GmbH. ESCRYPT GmbH, Itemis AG, Mixed Mode GmbH and SCHUTZWERK GmbH represent tool manufacturers and the security industry. Selected research institutes and universities ensure that the latest results from research are transferred to the project. They include the University of Ulm, the Technical Universities of Braunschweig and Munich, the Free University of Berlin, the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, and the Fraunhofer Institutes AISEC and IEM. SecForCARs will run until March 2021.

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