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Natalia Kazankova

Protect your Hardware Security Module against edge cases with Code Intelligence

As vehicles become increasingly reliant on software, secure and functional Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) are paramount. Unknown vulnerabilities in your automotive software can pose a significant threat to your products and business by putting you at risk of coding errors or insecure configurations, which can be exploited by malicious actors or lead to consequential failures.

Therefore, continuously testing HMS modules is crucial to ensure that functional and security bugs are found long before they make it anywhere near a finished product. In the automotive industry, where undiscovered issues can put human lives at risk or lead to costly callbacks, thorough testing is paramount. Considering the pivotal role of HSMs as the root of trust in communication within a car, if an attacker can take over an HSM, the consequences are dire. Such a breach not only jeopardizes data integrity but also poses a significant threat to vehicle safety and passenger security. Hence, rigorous testing remains the primary defense against these potentially devastating breaches.

At Code Intelligence, we've repeatedly discovered various security issues in HSMs throughout the automotive industry that had slipped through multiple “traditional”, ranging from remote code executions and buffer overflows to heap use after free and segmentation fault.

Blog - Protect your hardware security module


Challenges in HSM Security Testing

Traditional approaches to HSM security testing can have certain limitations that may prevent them from effectively meeting the international standards established under ISO 21434. Such approaches include:

  • Manual Penetration Testing (Pen-Testing)
  • Code Reviews
  • Security Audits
  • Functional Testing
  • Acceptance Testing
  • Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) Testing

While these traditional methods can identify potential vulnerabilities and ensure that the HSM functions as expected, they have some limitations. 

Manual penetration testing and code reviews are labor-intensive, time-consuming, and can be subject to human error, leading to potentially overlooked vulnerabilities. These technologies are primarily conducted manually, and despite their thoroughness, some vulnerabilities may remain undiscovered. Hence, it's crucial to integrate software testing as early as possible in the development cycle to address these shortcomings. This is where fuzzing becomes invaluable. Fuzzing, while not a replacement for other testing methodologies, serves as a complementary approach.

Functional and acceptance testing, while critical to ensuring the system works as intended, often occurs too late in the development cycle. In this case, if major issues are discovered, resolving them can be significantly costly and cause delays. 

Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) testing can simulate real-world operating environments, but it's less effective at uncovering software vulnerabilities within the HSM itself. 

Additionally, regular security audits provide only a point-in-time snapshot of HSM security, where new vulnerabilities that arise after an audit can remain undiscovered until the next audit takes place.

Finally, these methods often lack scalability and continuous, automated testing capabilities, thus failing to provide complete, ongoing assurances, particularly in today's fast-paced, integrated development environments.

Reliable HSM testing and security

Code Intelligence’s AI-powered fuzz testing performs continuous, automated security and quality tests with every pull request, ensuring vulnerabilities are caught consistently and fixed on the fly.

The platform will dive deep into your HSM, test your code line by line and unveil hidden bugs and vulnerabilities with zero false positives as the development process is ongoing. Using Code Intelligence’s fuzz testing platform you will enable your developers to examine, triage, and fix security issues quickly directly from their favorite IDE/CLI. All uncovered bugs are pinpointed to the exact line of code in the repository and accompanied by inputs that triggered an issue and clear actions to remediate those.

Code Intelligence - AI powered fuzz testing

We understand the significance of code coverage as a metric to ensure thorough testing and risk mitigation - that’s why for every project you will see how much of the code was tested. 

Code Intelligence - Code coverage

Cost-effective testing with Code Intelligence

At Code Intelligence, we place a strong emphasis on code coverage as a key metric to ensure comprehensive testing. Our goal is to help you identify blind spots easily and mitigate your risk, maximizing your confidence in the security of your HSM.

We've found that fixing security issues before penetration testing can reduce your security-related costs drastically. Therefore, by empowering developers to find issues early in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) before acceptance testing, Code Intelligence allows you to cut expenses caused by testing inefficiencies experienced through traditional methods. 

The requirements for our software testing tool to perform to the best of its abilities are minimal and manageable, designed to ensure you get started easily and quickly as possible. You only need a PC with Linux (x86_64/x86) or MacOS (x86 or ARM64) - with Windows support coming soon. You also need Code Intelligence installed, along with your HSM source code with all dependencies and locally executable unit tests.

Test Your HSM Continuously

Stay secure and reliable by testing your HSM continuously. Our coverage-guided feedback loop will keep testing your HSM routines and communication interfaces for critical vulnerabilities, feeding back the results to refine subsequent tests. You will be protected from memory corruption and other critical vulnerabilities, leaving you to focus on what matters the most - developing the most secure software possible for your business aims. 

HSM Security Through AI-Powered Test Cases 

With Code Intelligence, you can innovate knowing that your HSM's security is taken care of. We've been proudly rolling out our solutions across the German automotive industry, providing businesses like yours with the tools they need to secure their future.

CI Spark, a built-in AI assistant that leverages large language models (LLMs) and static code analysis, automatically writes thousands of test cases, generates inputs and mocks. This significantly reduces the workload to create tests for any unknown code from several days to under three hours.

CI Spark - C/C++  

Book a demo with Code Intelligence

Interested in securing your HSM and reducing your risk of vulnerabilities? Our team of experts will guide you through our solution, demonstrating how Code intelligence can be an asset to your organization and help you secure your HSM. Book a demo directly with one of our specialists.

FAQ section

What are the limitations of traditional HSM security testing methods? Traditional HSM security testing methods, such as manual penetration testing, code reviews, HiL, functional testing, and acceptance testing, are still very useful and essential testing best practices. However, in addition to involving considerable time and effort, they increase the chance of human error. They can also lack scalability and continuous, automated testing features, making them less effective in today's fast-paced development environments. For the best possible results, they should be used simultaneously with automated solutions to produce the absolute best results.
How does Code Intelligence improve HSM security testing? Code Intelligence uses AI technology to streamline automated and continuous security testing, including fuzz testing, which involves providing invalid, unexpected, or random data as inputs to a computer program. By incorporating fuzz testing, Code Intelligence offers a more comprehensive analysis of code integrity throughout the development cycle. This not only exposes hidden vulnerabilities in your code but also allows developers to scrutinize, address, and rectify security issues directly within their preferred IDE/CLI on the fly, which saves time and reduces costs as any discovered problems can be solved with more efficiency.
What are the system prerequisites for running Code Intelligence's software testing application?

Code Intelligence is designed to integrate seamlessly into your development environment and requires a minimal setup to function. This includes a computer running Linux (x86_64/x86) or MacOS (x86 or ARM64). You will need our software installed along with your HSM source code, all its dependencies, and locally executable unit tests. By meeting these basic requirements, developers will be ready to automatically conduct numerous security and quality tests, enabling the detection of edge cases and providing comprehensive protection against unexpected security threats.

Why is code coverage crucial in HSM testing?

Code coverage is an essential metric in comprehensive testing because it helps pinpoint testing blind spots and mitigates associated risks. By providing a detailed view of what portions of your code have been tested, Code Intelligence enhances confidence in the security of your HSM and allows developers to fix bugs and vulnerabilities early in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), saving considerable time and costs.

How does Code Intelligence handle false positives in HSM security testing?

Our AI-powered testing tool uses sophisticated fuzzing algorithms and a rigorous testing process to target and identify only real vulnerabilities. This approach allows Code Intelligence to automatically perform hundreds of thousands of security and quality tests with every pull request to ensure that developers can devote their efforts to addressing real issues rather than sifting through and discarding false alarms.

Our AI-powered testing tool takes a dynamic approach, avoiding static code analysis that relies on predefined patterns. Instead, we execute the code and generate real failures by sending actual inputs. This methodology, distinct from static analysis, prevents the occurrence of false positives. Code Intelligence utilizes sophisticated fuzzing algorithms and a rigorous testing process to target and identify only genuine vulnerabilities. This approach enables us to automatically conduct hundreds of thousands of security and quality tests with every pull request. By focusing on dynamic testing, we ensure that developers can prioritize addressing real issues rather than sorting through and dismissing false alarms.

In what ways does continuous testing with Code Intelligence create more robust HSM security?

Code Intelligence's continuous testing strategy enhances your HSM's overall security and reliability by constantly testing HSM routines and communication interfaces for vulnerabilities and leveraging the feedback to the algorithm to refine subsequent tests. This allows you to concentrate on crafting the most secure software for your business.