Aug 10, 2016 Aerospace & Defense

From Mars to Earth, Wind River Is Applying Three Decades of Experience to Thwart Vehicle Hacking

By Marques McCammon


Imagine you’re driving a two-ton SUV that’s traveling 70 miles-per-hour on the highway when suddenly, beyond your control, the air-conditioner fan starts blasting, the radio blares, windshield wipers whoosh back-and-forth and then the engine shuts down just as you approach a steep incline.

That’s what happened last summer to Wired’s Andy Greenberg when cyber security researchers remotely commandeered his “connected” Jeep Cherokee from miles away. Although this well publicized attack was a simulated, as vehicles rely more heavily on software that is more and more connected, we must face the reality the potential of  cars becoming a real, dangerous target for cyber attacks  .

Security and safety are top of mind for the team at Wind River, which  has long made its business by creating software for systems that have to be safe.  As the commercial software arm for Intel, Wind River’s focus on developing software for self-driving cars is especially strong. These cars of the future will become an anchor to a new Internet of Things (IoT) era where nearly everything benefits from being connected.  In this exciting new technology world, IoT will connect cars with other vehicles and smart infrastructure in  cities like  streets, traffic signals, buildings parking meters, cameras and more.

Considering that hackers are on constant attack – some say an estimated 1 million times a day – we have to be vigilant.  With more than three decades of mission critical expertise in the defense, aviation, aerospace and automotive industries, Wind River provides invaluable experience to design and constantly upgrade software that closes the door on cybercriminals.

Our teams engage in hacking exercises where the world’s foremost security experts attack our software as if sophisticated cybercriminals were laying siege. The lessons learned are applied to develop new software that is both innovative and secure. It’s a never-ending battle, one Wind River is uniquely qualified to conquer.

Wind River technology has powered all of the Mars rovers since 1997, and in 2009 we flawlessly performed a software update 250 million miles from Earth. Similarly, Wind River software also ensures the safe operation of commercial aircraft, unmanned military vehicles, and braking and other safety features in today’s cars.

Wind River has long aligned with auto manufacturers across the globe to assist with the industry’s transition into a software-defined world. This collaborative effort requires the utmost security – especially for autonomous driving, where Wind River is advancing the technology by providing the foundation for mission-critical systems that must work every time.

Hackers are sophisticated and bold, and since there’s not one silver bullet for cybersecurity, we must keep evolving and anticipating their next moves. We’re dedicated to battling the bad guys in order to help autonomous vehicles reach their full potential – drastically reducing accidents and saving lives, easing traffic, and cutting energy consumption and pollution.

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