Intel sets up talking shop to improve automotive security

Intel hopes to persuade security researchers to help it audit and test its automotive infotainment platform

The dramatic hack of a Jeep Cherokee, which resulted in Fiat Chrysler Automobile recalling over one million vehicles, has also prompted Intel to take action.

Security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek remotely hacked their way into the Jeep's Uconnect navigation and entertainment system via its connection to Sprint's wireless network, taking control of it while a reporter for Wired magazine was at the wheel.

The hack prompted Fiat Chrysler to issue a recall notice for 1.4 million vehicles in order to patch the software bug exploited by the researchers.

The first version of Chrysler's Uconnect in-car multimedia system, introduced in 2003, used Intel's ARM-based X-Scale chips, but Intel sold that product line to Marvell Technology in 2006.

These days, Intel pitching its x86 chips for use in connected automotive information and entertainment systems, and has already won over auto manufacturers including BMW, Hyundai, Infiniti and Kia, according to its website.

That puts its reputation at risk if Miller and Valasek, or other security researchers, turn their attention to cars containing its chips and find flaws.

On Monday, Intel took a number of steps to head off such a possiblity.

The first is the creation of the Automotive Security Review Board, to which it hopes to recruit researchers who will conduct security audits and tests of its automotive hardware platform, and come up with design recommendations for automotive cybersecurity systems.

It also published a white paper detailing what it considers to be automotive cybersecurity best practices, saying it would update it based on the review board's findings.

Members of the review board will have access to Intel's latest automotive development platforms for their research, and their findings will be published publicly, the company said.

It also offered a new car to whichever board member made the greatest contribution to automotive cybersecurity using its hardware platform -- an interesting variation on the "pwn to own" cybersecurity competitions in which researchers walk off with the hardware they hack as a prize.

The first review board meeting will be held in October: Intel invited interested security professionals to sign up through its website.

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Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
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