INSIDE BLACKBERRY BLOG

Deploying Android Securely in the Car with BlackBerry

AUTOMOTIVE / 05.03.19 / Kaivan Karimi

The dawn of the smartphone era brought about the trend of employees wanting the freedom to work anywhere, anytime and on any device, and now the auto industry finds itself in a similar situation.

Consumers are increasingly expecting an in-car environment that mirrors the personalized and seamless connected experience they have in their home or office, and one that allows them to access the popular Android apps they know and love.

Exacerbating the challenge for OEMs is the fact that as the software within a car increases, so too does the attack surface for vulnerabilities and, thus, they must simultaneously harden a large and tempting attack surface for cybercriminals. Additionally, from a security perspective, Android introduces a large threat vector to a vehicle’s software system, something which we have written about previously.

So how to deliver Android apps to consumers but do so in a secure way? Can automakers have their cake and eat it too so to speak?

They can. Released just a few months ago at CES 2019, BlackBerry’s QNX Platform for Digital Cockpits enables automakers to provide their customers with the best of both worlds – access to the latest Android-based applications such as Google Maps and Google Play Music that consumers want while simultaneously securing and sandboxing the entertainment portion of the digital cockpit so that if an app crashes, is compromised, or needs to be updated, it will not impact critical-driving functions.

Built on the foundation of QNX Hypervisor for Safety, QNX Platform for Digital Cockpits leverages our QNX Platform for Instrument Clusters, QNX OS for Safety (certified to ISO 26262 ASIL D –the auto industry’s highest functional safety standard), Android “P” (or later) reference, our CAR Platform for Infotainment middleware, our Acoustics Management Platform, as well as Over-The-Air (OTA) software updates.

Automakers and Tier Ones have taken notice and many are engaged with us in early stage pilots as they trust BlackBerry to provide them with the safety-certified and secure QNX-based technologies that will allow them to deploy Android in a way that will protect their brand reputation, their cars and most importantly, the people in them.

Above and beyond Android, our foundational software platform is technologically agnostic, thereby providing automakers with the freedom to choose other car platforms that their customers use to access apps, be it Apple CarPlay, Baidu CarLife or others, while still keeping safety-critical domains of the car securely isolated. Finally, BlackBerry neither wants to own the OEM’s data nor control the brand-differentiating user Interface.

Software’s role in how we drive has never been greater – and it grows in importance with each passing day. As cars become more and more defined by their software, it’s all those zeros and ones (and their security) that are going to matter and which will be the most important components of cars. By building the world's first safety-certified digital cockpit that enables secure Android apps in the car, we are helping OEMs achieve the dual goals of safety and security while simultaneously giving drivers access to the latest Android-based applications such as Google Maps and Google Play Music along with peace of mind.

Watch this space for more developments on the transformative automotive technologies that BlackBerry is developing to help drive our future and for more information on BlackBerry’s products and services for the automotive industry, please visit www.BlackBerry.com

Kaivan Karimi

About Kaivan Karimi

Kaivan Karimi currently serves as Senior Vice President and Co-Head of BlackBerry Technology Solutions (BTS). He is responsible for driving growth of embedded software and cybersecurity-related solutions for mission-critical applications in automotive, medical, defense, and industrial markets. His responsibilities include sales and Go-To-Market, channels and partner ecosystem management, and operationalizing growth strategies.

Kaivan has over 23 years of operational and leadership experience in the software and semiconductor industries focused on automotive, telecom, and industrial markets. An avid blogger, he has been a recognized IoT evangelist since 2010. He has advised multiple startups in the IoT space and has grown IoT businesses at Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining BlackBerry, he served as the VP and General Manager of Atmel wireless MCUs and IoT business unit. Earlier, he served in various leadership roles at Freescale Semiconductor and Cadence Design Systems.

Kaivan holds graduate degrees in engineering (MSEE) and business (MBA).