BlackBerry Joins OmniAir V2X Consortium

BlackBerry is joining the OmniAir Consortium as an executive member in an effort to advance the testing and deployment of technologies for connected vehicles.

The consortium develops testing and certification programs for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) devices as part of its mission to promote secure commutations for connected vehicles.

Together, its members promote the deployment of secure and interoperable connected vehicle technologies and to address technical challenges and to advance independent, third-party testing and certification.

BlackBerry, which acquired Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) specialist Certicom in 2009, recently demonstrated the interoperability of its V2X certificates at last month’s OmniAir MotorCity PlugFest.

Jim Alfred, vice president and general manager of BlackBerry Certicom, told The Connected Car that while other groups in the intelligent transportation systems (ITS) world are in their initial stages of forming a V2X taskforce, OmniAir and its members are delivering results today.

Alfred explained while legislation mandating that all future vehicles come equipped with V2X connectivity capabilities would have profound benefits for society, mass adoption would only happen once a common standard, interoperability requirements and certifications have been established.

“A modern vehicle has over 100 million lines of code and autonomous vehicles will contain the most complex software ever deployed by automakers,” Alfred noted.

In addition to the size of software, the software supply chain made up of multiple tiers of software suppliers is unlikely to have common established coding and security standards.

“As the software and its complexity in a car grows so does the attack surface, which makes it more vulnerable to cyber attacks,” Alfred said. “Each poorly constructed piece of software represents a potential vulnerability that can be exploited by attackers.”

For instance, hackers can access a car through a non-critical engine control unit (ECU) system and tamper with or take over a safety-critical system, such as the steering, brakes or engine systems.

Overall, V2X connectivity provides information to enable safer driving, reduce congestion and lower emissions through optimized mobility and improved traffic coordination.

However, Alfred cautioned its success depends on robust cyber security and the trusted verification of each and every message that is sent or received between and among cars and things like traffic lights or road signs.

Alfred explained the system must be designed so that hackers cannot harm the public interest by modifying V2X messages in transit from certified devices.

“OmniAir and its members are leading this charge so that the general public and our elected officials are able to fully embrace connected and autonomous vehicles,” he said.

Available later this year, BlackBerry’s security credential management system (SCMS) is designed to secure the communication of vehicles with each other and with roadside equipment in two ways: digital signatures, which protect messages against manipulation, and certificates, which identify the sender as trustworthy.

“Issues regarding authentication and privacy have been well addressed — however, what remains to be tackled are specifications for device integrity, certification policies and challenges surrounding misbehavior detection and device revocation,” Alfred said.

Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209.

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