The terms “security” and “safety” are often used interchangeably; however, while they are closely linked, they do not mean the same thing.

One analogy which I find helpful to understand the difference is to think of security as if it were an umbrella in a storm protecting you from the rain. This is a key factor in ensuring your “safety” by keeping you warm and dry.

So, we can think of security as a safeguard that ensures our safety. You can’t have safety without security…


Automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to increase the amount of electronic technology in vehicles: mobile phone & internet access, Bluetooth connections, infotainment, diagnostics and telematics, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These mostly comprise system-on-chip (SoC) assemblies, which are complex, expensive to develop & optimize, and are vulnerable to failure and to hacking. This has been proven in real-world conditions by researchers at the University of Washington, who took control of a vehicle travelling at speed and prevented the brakes from working.

And if this is already a threat today, we can imagine how much more serious things will become as we move inexorably towards fully autonomous vehicles.

Coming back to the “security” and “safety” terms –  we should regard the control and monitoring systems of cars as effectively security safeguards which are critical to their safe operation.

There’s considerable focus in the automotive industry on Functional Safety today, with systems being designed to elegantly handle failure with fail-operational and fail-safe modes built in to critical systems.

There’s arguably less focus on security – yet this is an intrinsic element to guarantee safety. Put simply, how do you know if something is happening that shouldn’t have happened? Or something that should have happened, hasn’t happened? How can you tell if a system is being accessed, monitored, or even controlled by a non-authorized party? And importantly, how quickly can you determine that any of this is happening, allowing you the maximum time to respond appropriately?

These are critical areas where UltraSoC has unique solutions – with the ability to covertly monitor SoC operation in-life and make intelligent decisions at the hardware level.

If you’d like to know more, read more about how we address safety and security in our automotive solutions; take a look at our Bare Metal Security solution or arrange to meet us at DAC at the end of June.