Vehicle network security highlighted in new concept

  • 14-Apr-2014 04:40 EDT
OASIS (Eichbrecht).jpg

Visteon's Michael Eichbrecht stands next to the OASIS concept inside the company's new innovation center in Van Buren Township, Michigan. The OASIS concept provides an avenue for secure car-to-cloud communications. An advanced engineering team at Visteon is working to bring the OASIS concept to automotive production reality.


The Visteon- and Cisco-developed OASIS (Optimized, Adaptable, Secure, Intelligent, Seamless) concept makes secure car-to-cloud communications the prerequisite for unlocking vehicle network connectivity-associated benefits.

“With Internet connectivity becoming more prevalent in vehicles, there is a security concern. We’re looking to alleviate that concern,” Michael Eichbrecht, Visteon’s Innovation Project Manager, said during a recent interview with Automotive Engineering.

Secure car-to-cloud communications require a combination of technologies, according to Andreas Mai, Cisco Systems’ Director of Smart Connected Vehicles, “since reliance on singular security tools are likely insufficient for a vehicle that is moving across and accessing multiple networks.” That means that a secure point-to-point communication tunnel via the Virtual Private Network (VPN), authentication, and encryption of the communication packages are crucial.

Validating the source of a communication is especially relevant.

“A user profile is designed to change the operation parameters of a vehicle and contains private data tied to the identities of vehicles and users,” noted Mai. “If such profiles are provisioned from the cloud, the validation of the source of the file will add another layer of security to help ensure that a profile has not been infused by an unidentified third party.”

The OASIS concept uses a gateway box, essentially a highly modified router for the vehicle. According to Eichbrecht: “It acts as a firewall that separates the cloud connection and brought in portable electronic devices from the internal vehicle network.”

While the individual network and security technologies enabling OASIS are being used today in various industry applications, engineering challenges will need to be resolved before automotive deployment. According to Mai, those challenges include integrating the individual network performance and security technologies into an automotive-compliant software client “that can be ported on an onboard communication gateway.”

Software client interoperability with the corresponding network backend is needed for VPN termination, authentication, encryption, key management, anomaly detection, and threat defense, noted Mai. He added that validation and testing of the existing Cisco reference network and data center backend architecture for scalability (e.g., the ability to support millions of simultaneous VPN sessions) also is needed.

While secure car-to-cloud communications are the OASIS demonstrator’s centerpiece, the concept’s other features are highlighted via the OASIS acronym.

Optimized online connections for OASIS are via an external WiFi connection, an embedded modem, Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, or other data pipes.

According to Eichbrecht: “We want to optimize the data pipes in terms of how much data is being used as well as which data pipe is being used. For example, if a spouse’s cell phone plan has more data available then your cell phone’s plan that would help control costs. Or if available, a WiFi or another hotspot could be used.”

Adaptable driver profiles can be created and saved in the cloud. “The vehicle’s infotainment system is usually connected to the Internet, but with this level of inter-connectivity a greater amount of cabin personalization is possible,” said Eichbrecht: “Once you press the vehicle’s start-stop button, the system would read your ID and download the appropriate, pre-selected content for the digital cluster, center console, seat settings, and other cabin features. Preloaded driver profiles are also relevant for Zipcar and other car sharing programs.”

Intelligent processing of information can be used to improve the quality of service. For instance, human-machine interactions information can provide an automaker with user analytics. “Does the driver use steering wheel controls, buttons, the touch screen, or voice commands when using the audio system?

“What controls are used when operating the navigation system? How many seconds does it take for someone to use a screen? If someone is on a screen for 10 seconds, maybe the screen is too cluttered or there’s too much information on the screen. We could collect this information and start doing two-way connectivity rather than just pulling information.

“By gathering real data, we can start looking at how to improve the human-machine interactions over time. For instance, if a driver only uses voice commands for two or three features and there is a limited vocabulary for those features, an automaker might decide to expand the list of usable vocal commands for those particular features,” said Eichbrecht.

Seamless switching between data pipes is also part of the OASIS experience. “Let’s say you’re backing out of the driveway and using your home’s WiFi to download content. As you leave the range of that WiFi, the system can seamlessly switch to another data pipe,” said Eichbrecht.

The OASIS demonstrator was one of the first concepts to be showcased inside Visteon’s new 7632-ft² innovation center in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Visteon’s center includes a product showroom, conference area, design studio, and experience lab.

According to Tim Yerdon, Director of Visteon Global Innovation, Design and R&D: “This innovation center is less of ‘here’s what we make today’ and more of ‘here’s what we’re going to do for the future.’"

“Our goal with this facility, and when we take the product displays on the road, is to be 12 to 18 months ahead of the RFQ (request for quote) with our customers. We want to show our customers what we’re seeing, especially with consumer electronics, and how that bridges to automotive,” Yerdon said in an interview with Automotive Engineering.

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