How safe is your vehicle against being hacked? (“Who on earth would want to hack my vehicle?” you may be thinking.) In a world of increasingly smart devices and connected cars, the answer is “lots of people.” Individuals phishing for your personal data and credit card numbers, bad actors looking to spam you with marketing, and (at least in a Hollywood movie plot), a vengeful ex who’d love to deploy your airbag in your face while you’re navigating a difficult off-ramp. Near a cliff. During an ice storm. (You get the picture.)
So as connected car applications proliferate, some are asking: “Who’s making sure these applications are secure?”
Sprint recently partnered with NXM Labs, which produces secure solutions for smart devices, to launch a 5G-Ready Connected Car Platform that combines passenger Wi-Fi with advanced vehicle health monitoring and safety. According to the companies, the platform includes the first blockchain powered Internet-of-Things (IoT) security system to guards against hackers. A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records (“blocks”) that are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data, meaning that it’s impossible to alter one block without altering the others, making it virtually hack-proof.
The NXM platform includes an automotive router that keeps people connected on the road, and able to use mobile apps that (among other things) keep track of vehicle performance and location, provide parental controls and summon roadside assistance. Features might include maintenance reminders, preventive notifications, scheduling and booking service appointments. The platform also makes it easy to find nearby parking and low-cost gas, plus keep track of driving expenses, according to Sprint and NXM Labs. Multiple family vehicles can also connect to each other allowing family members new ways to communicate.
“Through the power of blockchain technology, NXM provides an advanced level of security and advanced capabilities to vehicles that might not otherwise have it, even extending Wi-Fi,” said Ivo Rook, SVP of IoT for Sprint, in a statement. “With the power of Sprint’s high-speed LTE and upcoming 5G network behind the technology, consumers will be able to experience the latest in automotive technology, even in early-model vehicles.”
The platform is powered by the Sprint LTE network and will be ready to expand when Sprint 5G service begins in the first half of 2019.