OmniShield brings security by isolation to the automotive market

According to the latest data published by the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 1.25 million road traffic deaths globally in 2013. More than 36,000 people have lost their life in the United States due to car accidents; the numbers paint an even more unfortunate picture for China and India: both countries have registered more than 200,000 road traffic-related deaths.

Given that the number of vehicles worldwide is increasing rapidly (particularly in emerging markets), car manufactures are making a series of improvements aimed at reducing the number of road traffic deaths. For example, the DoT (Department of Transportation) has recently announced that 20 major car makers will be making automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on all cars before September 1, 2022.

Charlie Miller (right) a security researcher at Twitter, and Chris Valasek (left), director of Vehicle Security Research at IOActive, have exposed the security vulnerabilities in automobiles by hacking into cars remotely, controlling the cars' various controls from the radio volume to the brakes. Photographed on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 in Ladue, Mo. (Photo © Whitney Curtis for

Everyone agrees it would be ideal if more cars would come equipped with ADAS and other electronics systems designed to take the control out of the hands of humans and enable the car to drive autonomously.

In this way, we avoid unfortunate behaviors such as drunk and sleep-deprived driving or texting while driving that are responsible for many of the traffic-related deaths registered on our roads. In fact, the intent of these measures is to reduce fatalities by as much as 50% by 2020. That could easily translate to thousands of hundreds of lives being saved.


However, while we are solving one major issue, are we potentially creating a bigger problem? A recent article from WIRED showed the world how a vehicle can easily become a weapon if it is not protected properly.

Today’s cars (like many other IoT platforms) are getting smarter, connected and more sophisticated in a push to create a better user experience for consumers as well as improve the carbon footprint of the automotive market and enhance the efficiency of transportation systems worldwide. For example, most connected cars are now able to receive updates over the air just like our smartphones or tablets. While this is a useful feature for consumers and companies alike, it also opens up many possible entries for cybercrimimals to take control of the platform if not implemented correctly. This increase in the attack-surface-area is a huge concern for auto makers since most of the security techniques used in the past fall short of effectively addressing these new vulnerabilities.

Imagination has also been analyzing these issues carefully. Over the past two years, we’ve been working with our customers, ecosystem partners and OEMs to define security solutions that provides a robust alternative for the automotive market. We call this capability OmniShield, a security solution that uses hardware virtualization at the system level to isolate applications in separate and secure environments – a concept we call security by separation.

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Have a look at how OmniShield works here and read more about how OmniShield can be deployed across multiple applications here. And keep an eye on our website for more security-related announcements from Imagination coming in the near future!

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