Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Popular Science recognizes SwRI, collaborators for Uptane automotive security updates

For immediate release

San Antonio — Oct. 18, 2017 — Southwest Research Institute is part of a collaboration of research organizations that developed an automotive cyber security protocol that Popular Science magazine ranked as one of the Top 100 Technologies of the Year.

The award recognizes the open-source Uptane framework, a cybersecurity protocol, which is designed to protect automotive software updates to modern automobile ECUs, or engine control units.

“Today’s automobiles are like computers on wheels, and securing them is as important as securing our mobile phones or personal computers,” said Cameron Mott, a researcher leading SwRI’s role in the Uptane development. “Uptane was designed to make it extremely difficult for attackers to install malware on vehicles maintained by a manufacturer.”

SwRI supports Uptane with system and software engineering, design, testing, and reference implementation. The Institute is collaborating with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the project lead, and New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. The protocol, which expands on The Update Framework, is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.

Uptane protects remote software updates using a compromise‐resilient security framework that offers a comprehensive threat‐prevention model. It secures over-the-air software updates for vehicles using a key hierarchy, metadata, and separation of responsibility for any online components.

The research team is working to standardize Uptane through a major international standards body. In the coming year, SwRI will work closely with OEMs, suppliers, and manufacturers to improve the security of future automobiles.

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For more information, contact Robert Crowe, (210) 522-4630, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.