Ensuring Cybersecurity in Automotive AUTOSAR Embedded Software

AUTOSAR stands as a beacon of resilience and security in the automotive industry

Ensuring Cybersecurity in Automotive AUTOSAR Embedded Software

The automotive industry is undergoing a transformative shift, propelled by technological convergence and the increasing complexity of vehicle systems. As vehicles become increasingly interconnected and autonomous, the demand for robust and reliable software has become paramount. This is where AUTOSAR, the Automotive Open System Architecture, steps in.

Read more to discover:

  • How software vulnerabilities are threatening the automotive industry
  • The danger of memory safety bugs
  • How to access improved security and performance
  • Achieving an advanced hybrid analysis approach

What is AUTOSAR?

AUTOSAR is an open standard that aims to provide a universal framework for the development and integration of software across diverse platforms and vehicle architectures. AUTOSAR encompasses two key platforms:

  • Classic Platform is a standard for embedded ECUs based on OSEK to control vehicle functions. For example, the ABS braking system on a vehicle.
  • Adaptive Platform is a standard to support communication with infrastructure and other vehicles. For example, over the air (OTA) updates, car-to-car communication, and autonomous driving aided by communication with infrastructure like traffic signs and lights.

Vulnerabilities in Software: A Threat to Automotive Security

Vulnerabilities in software programs can have catastrophic consequences when exploited by runtime attacks. These attacks can lead to unauthorized system manipulation and access, ranging from arbitrary code execution and privilege escalation to persistent manipulation of storage. The root cause of these vulnerabilities typically stems from programming mistakes and design flaws.

When working with programming languages like C or C++, programmers enjoy immense flexibility in controlling resource utilization to optimize code for memory usage and runtime performance, as well as accessing lower-level operating system functions. However, this flexibility comes at a price – memory safety risks and runtime performance, as well as access to lower-level operating system functions. However, this flexibility comes at a price – memory safety risks.

C/C++ is memory-unsafe, meaning programmers are solely responsible for bounds checking and memory management. Failure to carefully manage memory can open avenues for memory corruption attacks, code corruption attacks, control flow hijacks, or data-only attacks. These attacks are primarily linked to C/C++ undefined behavior, often referred to as runtime errors or memory safety issues. The most notorious pitfall is the buffer overflow, a well-know vulnerability that attackers frequently exploit. 

The pain of memory safety issues

While adhering to design rules (MISRA, AUTOSAR, CERT) and guidelines can be instrumental during the development phase, a substantial component of the verification/testing cycle encompasses static code analysis, fault in section, penetration testing, and fuzzing. Nonetheless, due to their inherent subtlety, memory safety issues can still evade detection despite these rigorous measures.

Vulnerability Countermeasures: Balancing Security and Performance

To safeguard embedded systems from memory unsafe issues and attacks, vulnerability countermeasures are essential. However, these countermeasures can sometimes conflict with desirable software properties, such as performance, software complexity, flexibility, and extended development time, which translates to higher costs.

Sound Static Analyzers: Achieving a Fine Balance

The introduction of sound static analyzers based on abstract interpretation, capable of proving the absence of runtime errors, offers a game-changing solution. These analyzers strike a delicate balance between eradicating dangerous flaws from the code and minimizing the need for vulnerability countermeasures. 

A sound static analyzer is a tool that guarantees certain properties about the code it analyzes. Sound analysis is often achieved through formal methods like abstract interpretation. A sound analyzer typically focuses on specific types of defects, like memory safety issues. It provides high confidence in its findings (i.e. zero false negatives it finds all violations of the guideline within the program). This makes it valuable for critical systems where errors can have severe consequences either at safety, cybersecurity or business level. 

Employing the sound static & dynamic TrustInSoft Analyzer significantly enhances the efficiency of the verification and validation (V&V) process, allowing developers to make informed decisions about countermeasure implementation. The analyzer delivers several benefits:

TrustInSoft Analyzer’s ability to emulate billions of data combinations makes it a powerful tool for reducing the time, effort, and cost of penetration testing, fault injection testing, and fuzz testing. It eliminates the need for repetitive manual testing, saving valuable resources and accelerating the testing process. 

In conclusion, as the automotive industry continues to evolve, AUTOSAR stands as a beacon of resilience and security. By employing sound hybrid static analyzers like TrustInSoft Analyzer, developers can safeguard their software from vulnerabilities, ensuring the safety and reliability of automotive systems. 


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April 9, 2024