The growing demand for connectivity within cars exposes more and more critical embedded systems to security risks.

Car manufacturers and service providers are finding innovative ways to personalize our rides, or make in-vehicle purchases more convenient (some even automated—like toll booth fees). While these services bring a lot of value, they also demand that more private, personal data is stored inside connected cars. That means your car, if hacked, could essentially be a runaway credit card on wheels. Not to mention that embedded systems control the actual behavior of the car as well, and any compromise of these systems could lead to damage or harm.

A 2017 poll by American Insurance Group revealed that 75% of respondents expressed concern that autonomous cars, and even cars with autonomous features, could be hacked. Alongside these fears is the growing demand for connectivity within cars—even into deeply embedded automotive systems. As more critical systems become exposed to this connectivity, the security risks magnify. This means securing smart cars has now crossed far beyond securing just the physical networks on cars.

To protect consumer safety and privacy, connected cars must be secure at all levels—from the hardware and software inside, to the connections to the network and cloudAs an embedded software and services provider, most of what we do at Tuxera is situated at the core of the car. Our file system implementations are software embedded into various processing units within the car to provide reliable data storage management.

How is data inside cars handled and stored?

File systems manage the data that goes to various storage devices inside connected cars. They also play an important role in storage read and write performance, flash endurance, data and storage interoperability, and especially data integrity, which includes security. For a file system, security means ensuring that data it handles is not misused and/or altered by unwanted parties.

With several people using the same car—think car sharing, lending, or rentals—securing information such as contacts, web browsing, or credit card information is essential. So, it makes sense that the file system handling the storage of this information should have features to allow only authorized access to that data. One security measure that can be implemented at the file-system level is encryption. Encryption entails encoding data in a way which only authorized parties with the right “key” can gain access to it. The file system can implement encryption in different ways, each having some effect on CPU performance and processing speed.

How file system encryption works

Want to learn more about file system encryption? We’ve got a great write-up about it over at the Arm Community blog: “Fast, secure file systems for autonomous vehicles from Tuxera.” Hop over to Arm to find out how file system encryption works and how VelocityFS by Tuxera (formerly Tuxera Flash File System) handles it.