Case Study: Enhancing Automotive Safety with Mayhem

Debra Hopper
July 27, 2023
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In the fast-paced and highly competitive automotive industry, innovation is the key to success. For companies specializing in automation and safety technology for autonomous vehicles, perfection and safety are non-negotiable, and that includes ensuring the safety and reliability of automotive software.

But ensuring code reliability and security is no easy task. In fact, it can be quite a challenge. That's where Mayhem comes in.

In this blog post, learn how an automotive company specializing in automation and safety technology for autonomous vehicles leveraged Mayhem to automate code testing, reduce manual efforts, and optimize their resources. 

“We were interested in Mayhem due to its offering of Computing-as-a-Service and, as a result, I don't have to go manage distributed clusters or spend more spinning up virtual machines.” 

— Senior Software Engineer, Product Security

The Problem: Balancing Safety and Resources

The automotive industry is, these days, heavily reliant on software. Automotive software is highly regulated, often involving life-critical applications. 

Our featured automotive company knew that finding and fixing defects in their life-critical systems was crucial. They needed to ensure the reliability and security of the code in their products. 

Their main challenge? Finding an efficient way to do this without stretching their existing resources, including both their engineers and their software performance. 

The problem faced by many automotive companies when testing software is twofold:

1. Allocating Engineering Resources

Having to allocate engineering headcount for security testing isn’t always practical. However, without an efficient automated solution, many companies are forced to rely heavily on manual tests, which are not only time-consuming, but also prone to human error. 

Our featured automotive company faced this challenge. They needed an automated solution that was built to preserve their developers’ time. 

Their proposed solution was one that would allow them to run autonomous and continuous fuzzing in the background. This would free up engineering resources, allowing their people to focus on more mission-critical projects. However, this created a secondary problem: resource usage.

2. Preserving System Performance

When fuzzing is used to test complex software systems, it can take a long time to run and may generate many test cases, further increasing resource usage. 

Furthermore, when the fuzzer discovers a bug or a vulnerability, it may trigger the software to crash, hang, or enter into an infinite loop, further consuming resources, such as CPU time, memory, and disk space, if left unattended.  

Additionally, fuzzing generates and processes large amounts of data in a random fashion, which can result in many program executions and the creation of many temporary files.   

Our featured automotive company needed a solution that would allow them to automate their testing efforts while optimizing local resource consumption.

What They Needed: To Implement Security Testing without Draining Developer Time

So, what were their options? They could build an in-house solution from scratch, but that would take time, resources, and energy that could be better spent elsewhere. They also had the option to hire more engineers for the task, but that would weigh down their budget and slow down their other game-changing projects.

This led them to search for an automated security testing solution. Ideally, one that would:

1. Automate Testing Efforts

Time is of the essence in the automotive industry. An automated testing solution that could continuously scan the code for vulnerabilities without constant manual intervention was critical.

2. Maximize Code Coverage

They needed a testing solution that could thoroughly explore their code, leaving no stone unturned to detect even the most elusive defects.

3. Eliminate False Positives

Developers' time is precious. They required a tool that could filter out false positives, ensuring that every result presented to them was actionable.

4. Optimize Local Resource Consumption

They sought to reduce local resource consumption while conducting security tests to minimize the impact on their system's performance.

5. Aid Regulatory Compliance

The automotive industry is tightly regulated, particularly when dealing with life-critical systems. The solution had to help them meet regulatory requirements for software reliability and security.

The Solution: Embracing Mayhem's Developer-First Security Testing Approach

To address their challenges, the company decided to implement Mayhem, a state-of-the-art automated security testing solution created by professional hackers. 

Mayhem's autonomous and continuous fuzzing capabilities aligned perfectly with their needs, allowing them to automate their security testing and avoid resource-intensive, manual testing methods and false positives that would waste engineering time.

Here's how Mayhem makes the magic happen:

  • Automated Security Testing: Mayhem generates and runs thousands of tests per minute autonomously. No manual intervention needed, which means more time for your engineers to innovate and create.
  • Resource Efficiency Made Easy: Mayhem's smart, AI and ML-driven approach minimizes the impact on your local resources, keeping your system running smoothly. As a SaaS, Mayhem takes the resource burden off the user, allowing you to run more tests and free up local resources.
  • Maximum Code Coverage: Mayhem's self-learning algorithms continually expands test coverage, dynamically exploring code parts often missed by static analysis. This means no corner of the codebase remains untested, delivering unparalleled coverage.
  • Seamless Integration, Always Running: Say goodbye to disruption! Mayhem smoothly integrates into your build pipeline, continuously testing your apps and APIs without causing hang ups in your development process.
  • False Positives No More: Mayhem's automated triage and reproduction skillfully identify and filter out false positives. Developers receive only actionable, reproducible, and prioritized results, saving invaluable time and effort.
  • Enhanced Safety and Compliance: Comprehensive code coverage means your life-critical products are safer, meeting regulatory standards and inspiring customer confidence.

Implementing Mayhem: The Outcome

With Mayhem as their automated security testing solution, the automotive company saw significant improvements in their software development process. With Mayhem's maximum code coverage and elimination of false positives, the company achieved their goals of automating code testing, reducing manual efforts, and optimizing resources. 

Mayhem proved to be the ultimate game-changer, revolutionizing their approach to code testing. With Mayhem in their DevSecOps toolkit, they could confidently add a little extra safety and innovation to their autonomous vehicle technology, keeping them ahead in the competitive automotive industry.


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