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Blackberry’s AI Robo-hacker gets to work finding bugs in connected cars code


As more products become reliant on software to function, and as  programs get increasingly complex, human developers are finding it increasingly difficult to find and patch all the bugs and vulnerabilities.


As cars, especially self-driving ones, become more reliant on software it’s critical automakers can make their code as secure as possible. While I’ve seen a few Robo-hacker companies now, companies who use advanced, autonomous and incredibly fast Artificial Intelligence (AI) “hackers” to scan and patch code, take on botnets, and protect critical systems, including the US Pentagon’s own critical systems, that are now, ironically, protected by an autonomous Robo-hacker called Mayhem, it’s somewhat surprising to find Blackberry entering the fray.


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At a keynote during the North American International Automotive Show (NAIAS) the other day the company’s CEO John Chen announced a new cloud based security tool called Jarvis that can scan the complex software required for modern connected and autonomous cars.


Jarvis in action


According to Chen’s description Jarvis scans automotive binary code to identify security vulnerabilities in the software used in modern and upcoming cars, much of which is written by third party suppliers like Nvidia whose own self-driving software, DAVE 2.0, which is based on a neural network, was recently itself found to have a catastrophic bug. Among Chen’s claims he says Jarvis can scan and deliver insights in minutes, reducing the time in one case study from more than 30 days to just 7 minutes.

“Connected and autonomous vehicles require some of the most complex software ever developed,” said Chen, “creating a significant challenge for automakers who must ensure the code complies with industry and manufacturer specific standards while simultaneously battle hardening a very large and tempting attack surface for cybercriminals.”


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Once a car company signs up for Jarvis, it can be customised for their own needs across their entire software supply chain, letting them scan files for problems at all stages of a cars development, and while Blackberry is initially targeting automakers, Jarvis could help many other industries, scanning the complex software behind aerospace and military defense projects, healthcare, and industrial automation, for example, so watch this space.

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