Joe Madden's blog

Joe Madden's blog

How Cyber Secure Is the Software in Your Car?

Cyber Security JeepThis past July marked the first cyber security recall in automotive history.  Fiat Chrysler issued a formal voluntary recall of 1.4 million vehicles after security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek demonstrated to WIRED how they could exploit a software vulnerability in Chrysler’s Uconnect dashboard computers and remotely hack into a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee over the Internet, taking over dashboard functions, transmission, steering and brakes.  Most notably, they did so from their basement while WIRED author Andy Greenberg was driving the vehicle on the highway!

Though this was first time an automotive manufacturer issued a recall for cyber security, it’s not the first time security risks have been found in automotive software.  As I’ve pointed out in my previous article “How Much Software Is in Your Car?” nearly every vehicle less than 30 years old on the road today depends on lots of computer software and thus is potentially vulnerable to hacking, especially newer models that are connected to the Internet.  

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Cyber Security Program Management

How Much Software Is in your Car? From the 1977 Toronado to the Tesla P85D

It’s easy to imagine there is a lot of complex computer software code required to operate and control a fully autonomous self-driving car, such as the prototype recently unveiled by Google, and that advanced systems engineering and software life cycle management techniques are required to successfully manage its development.  However, you may be surprised to find out that nearly every vehicle under 30 years old on the road today also depends on computer software - and lots of it.

According to an IEEE Spectrum article by Robert Charette entitled: “This Car Runs on Code,” the first production car to incorporate embedded software was the 1977 General Motors Oldsmobile Toronado which had an electronic control unit (ECU) that managed electronic spark timing.  By 1981, GM had deployed about 50,000 lines of engine control software code across their entire domestic passenger car line.  Other auto manufacturers soon followed the same trend.   

Automotive Software Size

1977 General Motors Oldsmobile Toronado (image source)

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Software Sizing Project Management

7 Reasons Why Use of Parametric Software Estimation is a No-Brainer

Client organizations who are considering investing in SLIM® (a top-down, scope-based, parametric software estimation tool) often ask us for return on investment (ROI) case study examples which we gladly provide to help them with their business case. However, one question that has never been asked but I have always wondered is: does ROI accelerate with increased investment or does it follow the law of diminishing returns?

To answer this question, we looked at seven software estimation ROI case studies that included a variety of small, medium and large clients, from a single seat of SLIM all the way up to an enterprise Estimation Center of Excellence (ECoE).

Return on Investment ROI Using SLIM Estimation

On the above chart we plotted the investment in SLIM tools and consulting on the X axis vs. the return (actual cost savings) on the Y axis for each case study using a logarithmic scale. We then drew a trend line through the data points.

Following the trend line, small engagements (~$30K) had an average ROI of more than 13:1.  Medium engagements (~$300K) had an average ROI of 33:1.  Large ECoE engagements ($3M) had an average ROI of 67:1.  So not only is the ROI compelling, but it also accelerates with increased investment.

The actual cost savings (return) as reported by, or observed while working with, our clients include:

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Consulting Estimation