Cerberus Security Labs in Bristol has designed a chip to improve the security of driverless cars and the Internet of Things.

The chip design uses the RISC V open source core and a custom encryption and key management unit. The RISC V technology is gaining popularity as there is no licensing fee to companies such as ARM or MIPS.

The design can be implemented as a standalone chip or integrated into an existing chip design says Dr Carl Shaw, founder and chief executive. Shaw was previously at Bristol technology consultancy MathEmbedded and STMicroelectronics along with co-founders Paul Elliott and Andrew Lindsay.

However, the chip IP business struggles to be scalable so Cerberus also provides the data and cloud storage network to manage the security data for millions of devices. This is using a private cloud server in Wales, says Shaw, rather than public cloud services such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure that charge by the message.

Smart vehicle security

The IP is increasingly important as the UK government has issued guidelines for engineers developing smart vehicles to toughen up cyber protection and help design out hacking.

The guidelines requires secure design principles, with all aspects of security (physical, personnel and cyber) are integrated into the product and service development process. There are also long-term implications as organisations need product aftercare and incident response to ensure systems are secure over their lifetime, which is a key area for Cerberus. The guidelines extend all the way through the supply chain, requiring that it is possible to ascertain and validate the authenticity and origin of all supplies within the supply chain.

“Our cars are becoming smarter and self-driving technology will revolutionise the way in which we travel. Risks of people hacking into the technology might be low, but we must make sure the public is protected. Whether we’re turning vehicles into Wi-FI connected hotspots or equipping them with millions of lines of code to become fully automated, it is important that they are protected against cyber-attacks,” said Lord Callanan, transport minister. “That’s why it’s essential all parties involved in the manufacturing and supply chain are provided with a consistent set of guidelines that support this global industry. Our key principles give advice on what organisations should do, from the board level down, as well as technical design and development considerations.”

As well as driverless cars, the technology can be used for to provide security for devices in the IoT and in medical systems. It was exhibiting at the recent tech-Xpo organised by SetSquared.

There are a few more details at cerberus-laboratories.com

Nick Flaherty