How PLM can simulate a potential hardware hack

How PLM can simulate a potential hardware hack


Products are getting more complex. Sensors, connected devices, cloud software – you can see these elements in almost every hardware product nowadays. Which brings an additional level of vulnerability into products we use. The story about hacking Jeep vehicle on a highway), made me think about how PLM software can prevent this situation. If you missed that, navigate to read – How PLM can prevent a car from being hacked. It generated an interesting discussion. In a nutshell – current incarnation of PLM systems are not capable to do so. Moreover, PLM considered as a tool that helps to document design and related data, but not the tool can help engineers to find a potential product flaw.

Meantime, another article about hardware product hack caught my attention this morning. Again, WIRED magazine published – Hackers Can Seize Control of Electric Skateboards and Toss Riders. The story is fascinating and the reason of a problem was actually not a hack, but Bluetooth communication problem. Here is an interesting passage:

It didn’t take long to determine that Bluetooth noise in the neighborhood was the likely culprit. The intersection, near Federation Square, was notorious for being saturated with radio frequency noise. Healey was controlling his board with a handheld remote that sent drive commands to the board via Bluetooth. It was clear he hadn’t been hacked; instead, he concluded, a flood of Bluetooth traffic from devices around him had interfered with his remote’s connection to the board.

You can say – this is a problem of design and PLM system has nothing to do with that. But what if we can look at this problem with a bit different angle. Any product is vulnerable via list of components and systems involved into this product. It is possible to identify potential ways to hack these elements. I think, it is not very complicated task to find and document potential hacking behavior. By matching the list of potential hacks with bill of materials, software can simulate potential ways to hack a product you are designing. Add some predictive analytic to the story and it can be useful for hardware companies.

It made me think about PLM platforms we have today. Is it possible to use them as a foundation to simulate a potential hardware hack? Probably yes, but here is the thing… If you have PLM system up and running in your company, you might have enough information to find a potential hack. But, when most of companies are using DIY PLM Spreadsheetware, it could be a problem.

What is my conclusion? Product data is a fundamental requirement to get any type of simulation done. Similar to the fact you need geometrical data to run FEA, you need to have a complete set of information about product, components and systems in your product to simulate a potential hack. PLM system is supposed to provide a solution to manage this data sets, but it requires expensive and complex implementation. Which makes it out of reach for many hardware companies these days. A note to think about for PLM strategists cracking down a way to connect PLM and IoT. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit to WIRED article


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