Qualcomm and BlackBerry extend connected car partnership

BlackBerry has announced the extension of its strategic partnership with Qualcomm to deliver ‘cutting-edge’ platforms for connected cars.

Patrick Little, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Automotive at Qualcomm, comments: "As innovation in the automotive industry accelerates it becomes necessary for industry leaders to work together to deliver leading-edge technology platforms that help to make vehicles safer, more connected, and increasingly autonomous,"

"Today we're building on our longstanding relationship with BlackBerry to develop automotive platforms that will accelerate the industry toward a more connected future."

Select hardware platforms from Qualcomm will be optimised for BlackBerry’s QNX software used for virtual cockpit controllers (VCC), telematics — including eCall and Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology — electronic control gateways, digital instrument clusters and infotainment systems.

We aim to accelerate the delivery of the next generation platforms

The partners will also work together on ensuring BlackBerry over-the-air (OTA) software and BlackBerry Secure Credential Management (SCM) services are optimised for select Qualcomm Snapdragon modems.

"BlackBerry and Qualcomm Technologies have had a long-standing relationship for over a decade, collaborating on technologies that have revolutionized the way people live and work," said Sandeep Chennakeshu, President of BlackBerry Technology Solutions. "Today's announcement elevates our relationship as we aim to accelerate the delivery of the next generation platforms that connected vehicles will rely upon."

BlackBerry debuted its QNX Hypervisor 2.0 in June and Qualcomm was signed up to use it for digital cockpit applications in addition to its Snapdragon 820A automotive platform.

With the warnings of connected cars being targeted by hackers, BlackBerry could be well positioned to take advantage of concerns with its reputation for security. Partnering with Qualcomm, whose chips are expected to play a pivotal role in connected cars, should further help to ensure BlackBerry’s success in a market set for huge growth.

Today's partnership extension was made just a day after BlackBerry published security guidelines for connected cars.

What are your thoughts on Qualcomm and BlackBerry’s connected car partnership? Let us know in the comments.

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BlackBerry release guidelines to accelerate connected car security

BlackBerry is aiming to address connected car security concerns with a framework intended to harden them against cyber attacks.

Connected cars herald an era where you no longer just have to protect them from being physically broken into, but also hacked into. Compromised vehicles could pose a threat to safety through remote control, or be used to access sensitive data such as location.

I’ve covered hacks of connected cars on several occasions; including a Tesla being hacked for a second year by the same researchers. That case joined high-profile incidents with other leading automotive manufacturers including Jeep and Mitsubishi.

Like any computer, there will always be new vulnerabilities to be found and exploited. However, this should never be an excuse not to make them as secure as possible.

Connected car security guidelines

BlackBerry has a reputation for security and has created a recommended framework to guard connected cars against cyber threats. The guidelines are unlikely to make a vehicle immune to attacks but should help to reduce the prevalence of successful attempts.

"Protecting a car from cybersecurity threats requires a holistic approach," said Sandeep Chennakeshu, President of BlackBerry Technology Solutions. "Leveraging our experience as a leader in cybersecurity and embedded automotive software, BlackBerry has created a recommended framework to protect cars from cybersecurity threats."

Here’s a summary of the key points:

  • Secure the supply chain: Establish a root of trust by ensuring every chip and electronic control unit (ECU) in the automobile can be properly authenticated and loaded with trusted software, irrespective of vendor or manufacturer. Scan all software deployed for compliance to standards and required security posture. Conduct regular evaluations of the supply chain from a vulnerability and penetration testing perspective to ensure they are certified and "approved for delivery."

  • Use trusted components: Create a security architecture that is deeply layered in a defense in depth architecture, with secure hardware, software, and applications.

  • Employ isolation and trusted messaging: Use an electronic system architecture that isolates safety critical and non-safety critical ECUs and can also "run-safe" when anomalies are detected. Additionally, ensure all communication between the electronics in the automobile and the external world are trusted and secure. Further, ECU-to-ECU communication needs to be trusted and secure.

  • Conduct in-field health checks: Ensure all ECUs have integrated analytics and diagnostics software that can capture events, and are able to log and report the same to a cloud-based tool for further analysis and to initiate preventative actions. Moreover, automakers should confirm that a defined set of metrics can be scanned regularly when the car is in the field, as well as be able to take actions to address issues via secure over-the-air (OTA) software updates.

  • Create a rapid incident response network: Share common vulnerabilities and exposures among a network of subscribing enterprises so expert teams can learn from each other and provide advisories and fixes in shorter time frames.

  • Use a lifecycle management system: Proactively re-flash a vehicle with secure OTA software updates as soon as an issue is detected. Manage security credentials via active certificate management. Deploy unified endpoint policy management to manage applications downloaded over the lifetime of the car.

  • Make safety and security a part of the culture: Ensure every organisation involved in supplying auto electronics is trained in functional safety and security best practices to inculcate this culture within the organisation.

BlackBerry claims to either have, or are developing, solutions which help connected vehicle manufacturers to meet these guidelines. They’ll be demonstrating these during CES in Las Vegas next month.

The full whitepaper can be downloaded here.

What are your thoughts on BlackBerry’s connected car security guidelines? Let us know in the comments.

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Toyota moves to Automotive Grade Linux for infotainment – BlackBerry hits back

Toyota has adopted the Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) platform for its infotainment systems, according to the foundation, with the 2018 Toyota Camry the first vehicle to have it installed.

The announcement was made at the Automotive Linux Summit in Tokyo, with plans to debut ‘late summer’ this year, rolling out to ‘most’ Toyota and Lexus vehicles in North America.

More than 100 members are currently part of AGL, an open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation, with the aim to “bring together automakers, suppliers and technology companies to accelerate the development and adoption of a fully open software stack for the connected car”, as the company puts it.

“Toyota is an early adopter of Linux and open source and has been an active members and contributor to AGL for several years,” said Dan Cauchy, executive director of Automotive Grade Linux in a statement. “They have been a driving force behind the development of the AGL infotainment platform, and we are excited to see the traction that it’s gaining across the industry.”

This may have been bad news for BlackBerry, for whom Toyota was a flagship customer of its QNX software, yet Marty Beard, chief operating officer, aimed to dispel any issues by saying QNX’s status is ‘rock solid’ and the company’s ‘future in the rest of the connected car is brighter than ever.’

Beard cited BlackBerry’s various safety-certified solutions as how the company is broadening its portfolio beyond infotainment, adding that the company is winning business with Japanese carmakers and Tier 1 suppliers and that Toyota ‘will appreciate the unique value we bring in safety critical systems’.

“We agree Auto Grade Linux, like regular Linux and Android, will have market share in automotive infotainment,” Beard wrote. “But none of these challenger platforms is close to displacing BlackBerry QNX in safety-critical modules, areas that are growing faster than infotainment in the modern software-defined car.”

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