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Themes from Bosch Connected World 2022: The Role of Cybersecurity in Software-Defined Vehicles and the IIoT

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

From software-defined vehicles to the IIoT, innovation is high – and cybersecurity remains top of mind.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2022 Bosch Connected World conference in Berlin, which highlights state-of-the-art IoT and AI technologies through best practices and real use cases. Bosch has held the Connected World conference annually since 2014, offering an online option for the first time this year, as a way to bring together its closest technology and business partners to drive thought leadership, innovation, and networking.

I must confess that previously, I mostly knew the Bosch brand from their home appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, robotic lawnmowers, and automotive subsystems (Bosch democratized the anti-lock brake back in the 1970s). All of this was certainly on display at the conference, but there was also so much more, especially around industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions. 

From roaming the tradeshow floor to attending keynote sessions, everything Bosch had to offer was highly informative to the biggest trends surfacing in our increasingly connected world – which now extends well beyond those home appliances. Here are my top takeaways from what I got to see and experience.

On the tradeshow floor: connected vehicles and IIoT sit front and center

The main hall of the tradeshow showcased nearly everything that Bosch does, which covers many verticals including:

  • Smart Home: Bosch Smart Home and the sister team Home Connect manufacture home appliances, all of which offer remote management with a smartphone app.
  • Energy: Bosch Electrolysis Technology uses Solid Oxide Fuel Cells and is betting on green dihydrogen for storing electricity.
  • Industry: Together with the German electricity utility EWE, Bosch runs a program called “Decarbonize Industries” that’s helping factories and industries understand where every kWh of electricity is consumed with the objective to optimize usage, reduce consumption, and save money and precious resources.
  • Smart Building: Bosch Building Management Services and its partners provide integrated hardware and software solutions for more efficient management of large facilities across water, air, heat supply, fire and security systems, and more.
  • Industry 4.0: Bosch Connected Industry and Bosch Digital Xcellence Services help automate factory floors with AI tools to optimize production yields.

Many Bosch partners and Bosch internal horizontal teams also had exhibits on the floor. While I can’t list them all, two in particular that caught my attention as a cybersecurity professional were:

  • Bosch CyberCompare: An internal start-up matured in Bosch’s Grow incubator, whose role is to deliver cybersecurity consultancy to internal and external customers.
  • Bosch Digital: A merge of Bosch’s IT and AI/IoT software teams executing the CEO’s vision that digital is reshaping Bosch and that IT should not only provide tools and support but also supply the necessary software and SaaS resources to help the company harmonize good security and DevSecOps practices across verticals.

But it doesn’t stop there. Two of the biggest themes on display on the tradeshow floor were connected vehicles and the IIoT. In fact, they were so prominent that the former even had its own dedicated hall.

Inside the software-defined vehicle

A fair share of the exhibition was dedicated to the “Software-Defined Vehicle,” making it no surprise that more than 90% of Bosch’s partners sponsoring and exhibiting at the conference were software or data processing companies: AWS, Siemens SW, Capgemini, Dassault Systems, Eclipse Foundation, Microsoft, Red Hat, ServiceNow, Ab Initio, Ansys, Blackberry QNX, Confluent, Contact SW, EDAG, Google Cloud, HashiCorp, HP, Inspur, Intellias, MathWorks, Mirantis, neo4j, NetApp, New Relic, SAP, Snowflake, Talend, Teradata, Testbirds, Qt, Virtuaslab.

While the exhibition of the connected vehicle featured everything from a DAF truck tractor unit to a Stellantis car, most notable was a chassis featuring dozens of Electronic Control Units (ECUs). These ruggedized metal boxes house microprocessors and support many connectors to the vehicle multiplex Controller Area Network (CAN) buses – invented by Bosch in the 1980s – to take care of nearly everything in our modern cars, including:

  • Comfort (heating, A/C, seats)
  • Safety (seat belt sensors, airbags)
  • Driving subsystems (steering, braking, gearbox, headlights, wipers)
  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) (parking sensors, blind spot warning, partial or fully autonomous driving)

ADAS, in particular, are constantly improving, allowing cars to sense their environment in real-time with cameras, laser imaging detection, and ranging and enabling them to interact with other cars and the road infrastructure via dedicated radio communication standards like vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, and vehicle-to-anything.

With all of these ECUs running software, a modern car now runs on hundreds of millions of lines of code – compare that to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, which runs on just 10 million (a drop in the bucket!). And although this sounds complicated, an always-connected vehicle full of software interacting in real-time with its surroundings is safer, easier to configure, and much cheaper to upgrade in the field and fix when adjustments are needed – as long as it can resist cyberattacks. 

This is where Bosch’s ETAS subsidiary comes into play, with a dedication to cybersecurity, vehicle operating system and software development, data acquisition and processing, vehicle cloud services, and full end-to-end integration. Additionally, providers like Keyfactor can help by providing PKI, digital certificate automation technology, and software signature tools that integrate into the DevSecOps processes of vehicle and subsystem manufacturers. This helps the whole hardware and software development, distribution, and logistics chain run smoothly and securely to ensure safety at every step of the way from vehicle production to end customers driving those cars, servicing them with mechanics, or even reselling them to second-hand owners

Inside the IIoT

The IIoT was also on full display at the conference, including in a demo supported by Keyfactor and our partner Capgemini, who supports Bosch in its ongoing digital transformation. 

Specifically, the demo featured a factory workstation with the Bosch Rexroth smart screwdriver, which automatically adapts its parameters – rotation speed, direction, torque – to the device being assembled and reports real-time sensor measurements to be further processed by the assembly line quality engine running on the server.

The role of Keyfactor in this type of IIoT setting is to provide the PKI and digital certificate automation technology to the factory IT, the servers, and the machines on the assembly lines and workstations. This ensures that only approved tools, controllers, human-machine interfaces, gateways, and servers can securely authenticate and connect with one another and to the outside. Keyfactor’s PKI also ensures that the data exchanged is guaranteed authentic, which is crucial when safety and quality are at stake.

Cybersecurity carries through as a key theme

From the software-defined vehicle to the IIoT and everything else featured on the tradeshow floor, cybersecurity was a consistent theme underpinning everything on display.

And for good reason: Ensuring strong cybersecurity is essential to continuing to expand the connected world, and this requires a thoughtful approach and strategic direction. We’ve reached the point where security can no longer be an afterthought, and the exhibits at Bosch Connected World made clear that industry leaders are taking it seriously.

Ready for even more? Check back for part two of my top takeaways from Bosch Connected World for a look at key themes from the conference keynote sessions.