Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - STORY JEREMY CHUA

MMODERN cars are way more con­nected than we think they are.

Af­ter all, in the dig­i­tal age, the In­ter­net links us all. A good ex­am­ple of this would be when you stream mu­sic from an app on your phone to your ve­hi­cle’s in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

Stay­ing con­nected, how­ever, leaves us vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ing and data theft. So, how do we keep up with tech­nol­ogy with­out be­com­ing vic­tims?

Ac­cord­ing to An­dreas Wolf, Con­ti­nen­tal has the tech­nol­ogy to ad­dress th­ese is­sues and pro­tect mo­torists.

Born and raised in Ger­many, An­dreas, 58, has spent more than two decades in the field of au­to­mo­tive elec­tron­ics.

He be­gan his ca­reer in 1989 as the group leader for prod­uct dis­po­si­tion in Siemens Au­to­mo­bil­tech­nik. In 1993, he moved to France as the head of Siemens Chas­sis Sys­tems. In 1996, An­dreas moved back to Ger­many af­ter be­ing ap­pointed as the head of the lo­gis­tics depart­ment at Siemens Au­to­mo­bil­tech­nik. Four years later, An­dreas as­sumed the role of CFO for Siemens VDO Diesel Sys­tems.

By 2004, An­dreas was still a CFO, but this time it was for Siemens VDO In­te­rior & In­fo­tain­ment. An­dreas was pro­moted to his cur­rent po­si­tion af­ter Con­ti­nen­tal ac­quired the com­pany in 2007.

An­dreas speaks to Torque about the se­cu­rity for con­nected cars, talks about the fu­ture of car keys and tells us how all this tech­nol­ogy can be har­nessed to pro­tect peo­ple.

Con­ti­nen­tal has tech­nol­ogy called “vir­tual key” that lets you un­lock a car us­ing your smart­phone. How does this work?

Your smart­phone would com­mu­ni­cate with the car via Blue­tooth, so that you wouldn’t have to take your phone out of your pocket or bag. Most drivers want this seam­less­ness.

How do you un­lock your ve­hi­cle if your phone’s bat­tery is flat?

Be­cause of its preva­lence in our lives, the smart­phone is the one de­vice that al­most every­body will keep charged.

But if this sit­u­a­tion arises, our tech­nol­ogy utilises NFC (Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion). Ba­si­cally, you can still pull out your phone and tap it on your ve­hi­cle door.

Can NFC data be hacked?

Us­ing NFC to un­lock the car re­quires your phone to be around 10cm away from say, the door han­dle. Un­less the hack­ing de­vice that will cap­ture the code can be even closer when this hap­pens, it’ll be im­pos­si­ble.

What about Blue­tooth sig­nals?

Yes, th­ese can be read and stored. But we have tech­nol­ogy against this. No sys­tem is

An­dreas loves glid­ing be­cause it lets him “un­plug” from the world.

100 per­cent safe, but ours is about 99 per­cent se­cure.

There are po­ten­tial hack­ing points in­side a car. How do we de­fend th­ese against at­tacks?

A medium-size car has 70 to 100 ECUs (elec­tronic con­trol units). Door con­trol units, body con­trol units, re­ceivers for brakes and in­fo­tain­ment, and so on. The ECUs com­mu­ni­cate with each other and the car is also con­nected. There is a con­stant in­for­ma­tion flow be­tween it and the In­ter­net.

For holis­tic se­cu­rity, you must con­trol ev­ery­thing from the data traf­fic be­tween the ECUs to the in­for­ma­tion flow be­tween the car and the In­ter­net. And you have to con­trol the back-end, too.

Con­ti­nen­tal has in­tru­sion de­tec­tion (at­tacks from the out­side) and anom­aly de­tec­tion – ECUs send­ing/ re­ceiv­ing non­sense. So, even if some­one were to hack our back-end sys­tem and up­load ma­li­cious soft­ware, the anom­aly de­tec­tion would dis­cover this.

Ideally, ve­hi­cles will be shielded from at­tacks and be able to


share the in­for­ma­tion with other cars, so that they can de­fend them­selves, too. Rolling out soft­ware patches will be key, so that ev­ery ve­hi­cle can be pro­tected.

Do you have a team of en­gi­neers con­stantly try­ing to hack your sys­tems?

Yes. We check our own prod­ucts and try to hack cus­tomers’ cars to test their ro­bust­ness as well.

Does this team of hack­ers have more suc­cesses or fail­ures?

[Laughs] I don’t know. I don’t speak to th­ese guys. But I want them to con­stantly feel frus­trated!

You’re into glid­ing. How’d you get into this?

I started when I was 12 and made my first solo glide at 14. The feel­ing of flight with­out en­gines or noise fas­ci­nates me. I own an Alexan­der Sch­le­icher ASH 26 E, which has an 18-me­tre wing­span.

How long have you man­aged to sus­tain a glide with­out us­ing the en­gine?

Nine and a half hours! The con­di­tions were great and it was a very nice flight. I cov­ered about 840km!

If you’re out of con­tact for nine hours, won’t peo­ple worry about you? Your wife, per­haps?

No. It’s quite nor­mal for me to be away for hours when I’m glid­ing. I can “un­plug” my­self from the world. As for my wife... maybe she’s happy that I’m not dis­turb­ing her! [Laughs]

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