New BlackBerry product ‘battle-hardens’ full-range of vehicle software

‘Jarvis, where is my car vulnerable to a cyberattack?’
Car cybersecurity

BlackBerry is hoping its latest offering can provide peace of mind to automakers developing connected cars, a rapidly-accelerating field fraught with security concerns.

Chief executive John Chen took the stage at the North American International Auto Show on Monday to unveil Jarvis, a new product that can detect insecurities in vehicle software.

Throughout each stage of software development, Jarvis scans a vehicle’s full suite of code to identify vulnerabilities at a purportedly-faster rate than today’s manual processes. The cybersecurity firm says the product “battle-hardens” a vehicle’s software, which is a “tempting attack surface for cyber criminals.”

In a statement, Chen called the product a “game-changer” for automakers, saying the product provides the “insights and deep learning needed to … remain a step ahead of bad actors.”

Early trials of Jarvis have already made an impact according to Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth, who said in a statement that the product cut the firm’s time to review its code security from thirty days to seven minutes.

The SaaS solution is customized to each customer’s supply chain, and BlackBerry says it can be adapted to use in sectors such as healthcare, aerospace, defense and industrial automation. Jarvis can also be programmed to align with company’s own objectives and ensure software meets compliance standards.

The Waterloo-based company, which runs its automotive arm out of its Ottawa-based QNX division, made its first appearance at the NAIAS this year. In recent years, the firm has transitioned from developing its traditional BlackBerry handsets to focusing on cybersecurity applications such as connected and autonomous vehicles – a pivot Chen says is now complete.

"With cybersecurity increasingly a focus of automakers and regulators alike, our invitation to address NAIAS is a reflection of software's primacy in vehicles and our position as a cybersecurity leader," he recently told The Canadian Press.

This is the second splash BlackBerry has made at a major tech showcase in as many weeks, as the firm was showing off the flashy side of its automotive tech on a few model cars at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas just a few days ago.

With files from The Canadian Press