driverless cars

BlackBerry to lock down driverless car cyber security with ‘Jarvis’ system

A cyber security system for driverless cars called ‘Jarvis’ has been unveiled by Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry.

The cloud-based program scans binary code used in software developed for driverless cars to discover flaws that could be exploited by hackers at a later date.

The technology behind driverless cars needs to be flawless prior to its inclusion in any publicly available vehicles as, unlike most other computer programs, a compromised vehicle could cause injury or death if taken control of remotely by a malicious third party.

Jarvis is capable of scanning code and delivering deep actionable insights in minutes, BlackBerry said, a feat that would take large numbers of experts an impractical amount of time.

Ultimately the company believes its new software could be expanded beyond the driverless car sector and applied to other industry segments such as healthcare, industrial automation, aerospace and defence.

BlackBerry said it was offering Jarvis on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“Connected and autonomous vehicles require some of the most complex software ever developed, creating a significant challenge for automakers who must ensure the code complies with industry and manufacturer-specific standards while simultaneously battle-hardening a very large and tempting attack surface for cyber criminals,” said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry.

“Jarvis is a game-changer for OEMs because for the first time they have a complete, consistent, and near real-time view into the security posture of a vehicle’s entire code base along with the insights and deep learning needed to predict and fix vulnerabilities, ensure compliance, and remain a step ahead of bad actors.”

Once initiated, automakers will have online access to Jarvis and can scan files at every stage of software development.

BlackBerry has already begun trialling Jarvis with some of the world's largest automakers including Jaguar Land Rover.

Drive PX Pegasus, Nvidia’s new driverless chip that it announced in October, includes a high level AI that oversees all of the activities of a vehicle while it’s in motion and will safely pull a vehicle over to the side of the road if unusual activity is detected. 

Last year, the global ransomware attack, dubbed WannaCry, helped raise awareness of BlackBerry’s security software business, which is largely focused on managing secure connections to mobile devices.

BlackBerry said it had already tested Jarvis with automaker Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover unit, whose chief executive said Jarvis reduced the time needed to assess code from 30 days to seven minutes.

BlackBerry in September announced it would partner with auto supplier Delphi Automotive on a software operating system for self-driving cars.

Earlier this month BlackBerry and Chinese internet search firm Baidu signed a deal to jointly develop self-driving vehicle technology.

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