Both law and logic dictate that networked transportation systems must be as secure as possible. In a previous post we explored Positive Train Control (PTC), a computerized system for monitoring and controlling the movement of trains. These are typically proprietary mission-critical wireless systems that utilize the 217-222 MHz band. They’re not open to the public, and—needless to say—not easily hacked.


There are other transportation systems—for trains, buses, heavy industrial equipment and other rolling stock—that aren’t part of a closed control loop and that utilize widely available commercial interfaces, including Wi-Fi, 3G/4G cellular, USB, Ethernet, RS232 and RS485. These are non-mission critical systems that may include passenger counting, asset management, and GPS location.


“One example is a project we’re doing for DC Metro,” explained Kurt Hochanadel, Corporate Product Marketing Manager at Eurotech. “They have a wear leveling project where we’re reporting the wear level on the wheels of the trains. We’re actually on the wheels, measuring wear and reporting to their back-end asset managers through a Wi-Fi access point technology. There are access points at depots and stations; we supply a secure, encrypted channel to the Wi-Fi and also a secure connection to the server, so it’s double encrypted [using] IPsec and VPNs. We’re using standard tools that provide the best security in the marketplace and not trying to build something from scratch.”


The heart of Eurotech’s DC Metro system is the DynaVIS 10-00 (see Figure 1), a compact, rugged mobile display computer. The DynaVIS 10-00 features a 5.7” VGA touchscreen and connectivity through Wi-Fi, 3G cellular, and Gigabit Ethernet. It’s powered by a 1.10 GHz Intel® Atom Z510PT processor with 512K cache and 400 MHz FSB and an Intel® System Controller Hub US15WPT Chipset (Intel(R) SCH US15WPT). . The device is housed in an IP65-rated enclosure and features high-end rugged connectors that provide long-term reliability in harsh environments.


Figure 1: The Eurotech DynaVIS 10-00 is an Intel® Atom processor-powered
rugged computer designed for use in the transportation industry.


The DynaVIS 10-00 is EN50155 certified—the European standard for "Railway Applications—Electronic Equipment Used On Rolling Stock”, which covers the extended operating temperature range (-25/+70 degrees Centigrade), plus resistance to the humidity, shock, vibration, and radiation encountered in vehicle or airborne installations. When asked about automotive applications, Hochanadel replied that rail requirements “are substantially more robust than for automotive. There are a lot of different applications in transportation—basically all your typical logistics. The DynaVIS 10-00 is an onboard computer that talks to all your interfaces and all your equipment.”


Secure by Design

On the software side the DynaVIS 10-00 runs Wind River Linux 3.0, from which it derives many of its security features. According to Hochanadel, “Typically most applications start from a Linux environment and meet the security requirements from that standpoint. Most of the security is done using standard IP tools utilizing SSL and SSH encryption.” Wind River Linux provides a secure and robust environment for the rest of the applications.


Security starts at the operating system level. Wind River Linux includes SELinux as a Linux Security Module (LSM), a piece of the kernel that arbitrates access to all systems resources based on security policies as well as a collection of tools for developing, debugging, and enforcing those policies. Wind River Linux also includes advanced preemptive security technologies such as run-time stack and buffer overflow protection as well as a complete intrusion detection and prevention system.


At the protocol level older Internet security systems, including the Secure Socket Layer (SSL), Transport Layer Security (TLS), and Secure Shell (SSH)—all of the DynaVIS 10-00 also supports—are implemented at the application layer of the Internet protocol suite. In contrast Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is implemented at the Internet layer, where it can provide seamless end-to-end security between hosts and networks.

Implemented in both IPv4 and IPv6, IPsec can operate in both Transport mode—where only the payload of the IP packet is encrypted and the routing is left intact—or Tunnel mode, where the entire IP packet is encrypted and inserted into another packet with a new IP header. Tunnel mode is used to create virtual private networks (VPNs). In either case IPsec implements one of three cryptographic algorithms: HMA-SHA1, TripleDES-CBC, and AES-CBC. The probability of hacking any of these encryption algorithms when implemented with a sufficiently long key is vanishingly small.


Architected for Success

Having been designed from the beginning with Intel hardware and software, the DynaVIS 10-00 supports the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework (ISF). Designed before ISF was introduced, Eurotech built the system said Hochanadel “with the same kind of componentry as a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and an OSI framework to provide functionality that’s portable across different platforms.” Eurotech called this its Everywhere Software Framework (ESF). Built around Intel hardware and software and with the same design goals, it’s not surprising that the system is not just “ISF ready” but in fact ISF validated.


Asked why Eurotech chose the Intel architecture Hochanadel replied, “The hardware, software, and tools were more advanced than anything else. Also the price/performance gap favors Intel, as does its ease of wireless connectivity, especially in a Linux environment. Plus most devices have x86 drivers. There are a lot of issues that you don’t have to deal with in an x86 environment.” That’s especially true when everything is designed to work together.

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John Donovan
Roving Reporter (Intel® contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance
Low-Power Design
Follow me on twitter: @jdonovan43