Seok-Min Hong CEO of FESCARO - ‘Hack the Mobility’, FESCARO builds a safe mobility environment with technological breakthroughs and advanced solutions based on creative thinking
Seok-Min Hong CEO of FESCARO - ‘Hack the Mobility’, FESCARO builds a safe mobility environment with technological breakthroughs and advanced solutions based on creative thinking
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  • 승인 2024.04.04 09:40
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With the advent of the era of future car transformation, Korea is once again taking off with innovative mobility technology
CEO of Pescaro Hong Seok-min ⓒReport by Park So-yeon / Photo by Park Sung-rae
CEO of FESCARO Seok-min Hong ⓒReport by So-yeon Park / Photo by Sung-rae Park

With the addition of software technology to the automobile, the vehicle that gave humankind freedom of movement, the automotive industry is moving toward a “mobility revolution” to create a new mobility experience for drivers. As new technologies push beyond the physical limits of the car and create mobility that enriches the driver’s experience, the centerpiece is the software-defined vehicle (SDV), which is said to be the most efficient way to control mobility systems. The evolution of automobiles from H/W-based functional tools to S/W-centered user experiences is opening a new chapter, with cars being called ‘computers in motion’ and ‘computers on wheels’. Along with the growing importance of in-vehicle software such as SDV, cybersecurity threats to in-vehicle controllers are also increasing, and there is a growing demand to build a secure infrastructure for electric vehicles and autonomous driving by utilizing in-vehicle security solutions equipped with in-vehicle security technology to increase the security level. FESCARO has been improving the security level of vehicle network architecture by implementing user experience-oriented software solutions, starting with secure network control of automobiles, and is leading the innovation of future mobility software by securing various value chains as a future mobility software solution partner and building systematic in-vehicle security solutions.


Future mobility software solutions partner that protects cars with cybersecurity, dubbed the “vaccine for cars”

With the CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared/Service, Electric) revolution, the global automotive industry is at the center of a paradigm shift. The development of connected cars has led to an increase in the number, importance, and complexity of software, while also increasing vulnerabilities. A single automobile can have anywhere from 30 to 100 electric control units (ECUs).

Smartphone apps, Bluetooth, infotainment, digital keys, and other connectivity features in most vehicles increase the need for cybersecurity. The threats to automotive cybersecurity are directly related to the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, so preparing for cybersecurity attacks is not an option as we enter the autonomous vehicle era. Automotive cybersecurity has been likened to an automotive “vaccine” and is becoming the new standard for determining automotive quality. In 2020, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) WP29 plenary session adopted the Automotive Cybersecurity Regulation (UNR 155/CSMS), which requires automobiles to be equipped with systems that can deal with cyberattacks, and the Automotive Software Update System (UNR 156/SUMS), which mandates the systematic management of automotive software. In Korea, the Motor Vehicle Management Act was passed by the National Assembly in January, laying the institutional foundation for mandating cybersecurity and software update safety management measures for automakers. The amendment to the Motor Vehicle Management Act, which was promulgated in February, states that automakers must establish a cybersecurity management system and obtain certification from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport if they wish for self-certification.

Founded in 2016, FESCARO, a future mobility software solutions partner, is a ready-made company with all the competencies required for software solutions for future vehicles, from automotive cybersecurity to SDV. FESCARO’s expertise and project implementation experience have led to a deep understanding of the security requirements of global vehicle manufacturers (hereinafter OEMs), and FESCARO’s organization of top-notch automotive controller developers and white hat hackers complies with global standards. This capability is reflected in the achievement of Level 2 in the Automotive Software Process Improvement and Capability Evaluation (A-SPICE), which evaluates the quality of the development process of companies developing automotive S/W, as well as the acquisition of FIPS 140-2, a global certification for cryptographic modules used within security systems that protect sensitive information in computer and communication systems, and the resulting enhanced reliability. Furthermore, the company has a dedicated customer customization team to respond quickly to customer requirements.

In the area of cybersecurity, FESCARO first showcased its all-in-one solution for regulatory response based on its deep vehicle lifecycle understanding and capabilities, with solutions in the form of Defense in Depth, ranging from end point controller protection, communication network protection for all controllers inside the vehicle, to vehicle to everything (V2X) communication outside the vehicle. This includes threat analysis and risk assessment (TARA), security solutions (FASTHSMs), custom engineering, and security testing for automakers and controller developers.

FESCARO’s FASTHSM is a fast and powerful security software optimized for controllers. It is based on 10 cybersecurity use cases required by global automakers to meet the requirements of automakers, and verifies how much cybersecurity vulnerabilities are mitigated after applying cybersecurity features through security testing services such as fuzzing tests and penetration tests. This is the result of analyzing the vulnerabilities of all controllers applied to 10 domestic and foreign car models. FESCARO’s security solutions are applied to 14 vehicle models and 150 types of controllers from six domestic and foreign automakers. In addition, based on its expertise in developing automotive electronics S/W and H/W, FESCARO is expanding its controller business by developing not only security gateway controllers but also SDV next-generation controllers (Zonal ECUs) such as Body Control Module (BCM), which integrates the functions of body devices such as vehicle doors, Smart Junction Box (SJB), which transmits power and signals to each device in the vehicle such as headlights, and Vehicle Control Unit (VCU) for electric vehicles.

FESCARO also established an IT system to monitor cybersecurity with the goal of establishing a real-time incident response system. It is a server S/W solution for IT infrastructure for continuous cybersecurity management, including update management, S/W firmware version management, and intrusion detection system (IDS) detection rule management, after conducting risk analysis and risk assessment through its own analysis tool. Since there is no such thing as 100% safety in cybersecurity, the strategy is to respond quickly and prevent subsequent spread of damage through continuous monitoring. FESCARO not only closely checks security events by country and vehicle type, but also collects data from all connected controllers in conjunction with security gateways to build a solid monitoring foundation. Recently, FESCARO built a cybersecurity enhancement system for SK signet’s electric vehicle chargers, and is currently working on a follow-up project for the Charger Integrated Support System (CISS), which enables remote monitoring of charger status and software updates over the air (OTA).

The company’s proactive response to market needs by obtaining global certifications in cybersecurity is also impressive. The FIPS 140-2 certification, the first in Korea in the field of cybersecurity, has achieved a level of reliability applicable to the U.S. Department of Defense. The A-SPICE Level 2 certification also laid the foundation for FESCARO’s S/W quality reliability. OEMs are now requiring suppliers to have A-SPICE Level 2 or higher, and FESCARO is currently preparing for Level 3 to increase the competitive edge.

FESCARO’s is building strong partnerships with its customers by providing breakthroughs optimized for their environment and needs. Their goal is to provide creative and practical problem-solving solutions that grow with their partners. A representative achievement is the significant reduction in time and cost by proposing S/W solutions and all-in-one solutions that are equivalent to hardware security module (HSM) security. Seok-Min Hong explained that the company has been focusing on optimizing processes throughout the vehicle lifecycle. In addition to focusing on the ‘entire lifecycle of the vehicle’ in building a cybersecurity management system (CSMS), they have overcome vulnerabilities in S/W by considering ‘post-production phase’. In particular, recognizing the need for an analysis and evaluation process based on the impact of S/W updates, FESCARO recommend that customers adopt an automated system. This is because they need more efficient management, such as checking the status of S/W versions and updates, and responding to unexpected side effects.

“We approach projects with the philosophy that our customer’s growth is our growth. It is in FESCARO’s DNA to strive for better results with the idea that we can only reach the best results when we can satisfy beyond the requirements.”

Moreover, Hong emphasizes that even more important than production efficiency is profit efficiency. FESCARO’s operations are also increasingly focused on “revenue per employee”, which he explains is the only metric that can compare the quality of work rather than the size of the total workforce.

CEO of Pescaro Hong Seok-min ⓒReport by Park So-yeon / Photo by Park Sung-rae
CEO of FESCARO Seok-min Hong ⓒReport by So-yeon Park / Photo by Sung-rae Park

Deep understanding of the automotive lifecycle to deliver full-cycle solutions

To meet automotive cybersecurity (UNR 155) and S/W update management (UNR 156) regulations, organizations and processes are required to address cybersecurity issues throughout the automotive lifecycle. FESCARO’s deep understanding of automotive control systems and attention to customer needs has resulted in the company’s ability to achieve the consulting grand slam of the world’s four major certifications (CSMS, ISO/SAE 21434, SUMS, VTA) for international automotive cybersecurity regulations (UNR155, UNR156). This means that FESCARO’s integrated solutions, which boast a comprehensive understanding and expertise in automotive electronics systems, have passed the stringent quality standards of global automakers. FESCARO’s extensive know-how in responding to regulatory certifications has enabled it to work closely with OEMs, proactively participating in the certification review process and contributing to OEM’s early certification.

In 2017, FESCARO was selected as a promising ICT company in Korea by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and was selected by the Credit Guarantee Fund to participate in First Penguin and Pre-Icon, a scale-up program for startups with excellent technology and innovation, to lay the foundation for its growth. In addition, the company has been selected as the Best Partner of KGM and registered as a primary vendor, and is planning to conduct an IPO (initial public offering) in the second half of 2025 with the goal of becoming a technology special listing.

CEO Seok-Min Hong started his professional life at Hyundai kefico, where he fell in love with electronic controllers. As a first-generation computer science graduate, he developed and mass-produced Hyundai’s electronic control unit, and was the first in Korea to successfully develop and localize a cybersecurity module. At the time he was thinking about cybersecurity for vehicles, the market’s need for automotive cybersecurity was growing and international regulatory movements were beginning. Seeing the potential of the market early on, Hong began preparing to enter the market by completing the BoB (Best of the BEST) program, which trains the next generation of security leaders. It was during this time that he met CTO Hyun-Jung Lee, a white hat hacker who co-founded FESCARO. FESCARO has also been working hard to network with its partners by hosting various strategic webinars for automotive controller developers on cybersecurity implementation and software updates.

“I said that I would challenge the localization of the electronic controller, but it was not an easy challenge because we were from zero base. It took me nearly three years to develop it independently, and many people left the industry during that time. After a long trial and error, I succeeded in mass production, which gave me confidence in my technical skills. After that, I joined a hacker training program by chance, and it became clear what I needed to do.”

The complexity of software in automobiles, including electronic control units (ECUs), telematics, infotainment systems, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and the increase in electronics have led to a rapid increase in data communication between controllers. Along with this, the application of security solutions for In-Vehicle Network (IVN), which can securely communicate data between controllers, and the establishment of security gateway controllers that can manage software configuration are emerging as global trends. As the technology to quickly and easily update software based on connected car technology is in full swing, software engineering capabilities to quickly respond to it and the core controller, the security gateway controller, are attracting attention as the new core of the future car industry.

FESCARO is actively developing the automotive electronics S/W business based on its achievements in cybersecurity. With the ambition to lead all the solutions needed for future cars, CEO Seok-Min Hong, an automotive electronics system developer, leads the Electronics Development Division, and CTO Hyun-Jung Lee, a white hat hacker, leads the Security Development Division. In addition, FESCARO has secured technical leadership from leading global companies with an average work experience of more than 20 years, and has developed into a group of automotive electronics system experts. The company has differentiated itself by recruiting industry experts with the idea that white hat hackers should be as good as developers. In addition, they have established a close collaboration system based on specialized competencies. From AUTOSAR companies such as Vector, ETAS, and ElectroBit (EB), to chip manufacturers such as Infineon and NXP, to key suppliers such as HL Klemove, KMS Technology, and Block Harbor, to partners such as AhnLab, FESCARO’s strong partnerships across the value chain have created unique synergies. FESCARO’s security gateway controllers are equipped with NXP’s latest high-performance semiconductors to enhance its market competitiveness, and FESCARO’s S/W security solutions are compatible with all chips from global chip manufacturers with whom it has partnered. Based on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with HL Klemove for automotive cybersecurity technology collaboration, FESCARO’s cybersecurity solutions are being applied to HL Klemove’s autonomous driving solutions to target the global market. Recently, it was selected as one of the ‘Top 10 Automotive Solutions Providers 2023’ by CIOReview APAC, a global IT publication.

FESCARO’s strategy and hard work are paying off. From zero base, the company was selected as the Best Partner and primary vendor for KGM. Within two years of its founding, FESCARO completed the design and development of its security gateway, which has been ordered by passenger and commercial vehicle manufacturers for 1 million units. In addition, the company has signed a contract for mass production of the integrated digital cockpit controller, a high-performance controller, and is actively promoting its expansion into the global market. CEO Hong said the achievement demonstrates the company’s expertise in electronics systems. FESCARO has a workforce experienced in mass production of 10 million units per year and boasts know-how in cost reduction innovation based on value engineering, optimizing development processes, maximizing quality, and minimizing sourcing risks.



CEO of Pescaro Hong Seok-min ⓒReport by Park So-yeon / Photo by Park Sung-rae
CEO of FESCARO Seok-min Hong ⓒReport by So-yeon Park / Photo by Sung-rae Park

Achievements made through relentless pursuit rather than fear, solidified by FESCARO’s competence and trust.

CEO Seok-Min Hong is a first-generation computer science graduate in the automotive industry who developed and mass-produced Hyundai Motor Company’s vehicle controller from the bottom. He said that he persevered in R&D with the belief that he could do well if he was not afraid of problems he encountered for the first time and dug in. The challenge paid off. He survived the Spring and Autumn period with the electronic controller. The journey of two young men entering the automotive industry, a typically conservative industry, has been a monumental one. Hong said that the company’s survival amidst competitors with strong parent companies was even more significant, and that they focused on offsetting their lack of experience with a weaponry of unique technology and broad capabilities.

“We meet our clients with the belief that merit is more important than experience. The fact that there might be companies that haven’t worked with us, but no company has only worked with us once, is a testament to our competence and trust. We are an active partner with as much ownership as our clients, and we will come up with creative solutions to their challenges.”

In the automotive industry, where legacy matters, FESCARO’s ability to offer practical breakthroughs based on ownership is a key reason why the startup is chosen by customers. This is why Hong emphasizes a creative approach to solving customer problems. He promises to deliver the “most practical” solution optimized for the customer, rather than the world’s best technology.

“One thing you have to keep in mind while trying to find a breakthrough with creative thinking is a sense of reality. This is what FESCARO calls ‘practicality’, because a solution that is not marketable will never be realized. We want to maximize the bottom line for our clients and also be pragmatic internally, to grow together with our clients.”

Behind FESCARO’s creative solutions is a unique organizational culture. CEO Hong describes them as people who find a way to make things work. Employees are encouraged to be relentless in tackling unfamiliar problems rather than being afraid of them, and the company focuses on finding juniors with this attitude when recruiting. CEO Hong personally conducts nearly an hour-long interview for every employee, and after joining the company, he trains them to think about and solve difficult problems to enhance their capabilities. In addition, the company’s technical leadership has been enhanced by the addition of seniors with excellent technical leadership skills.

“When we started, automotive cybersecurity was not yet an issue, so it was difficult to find people with relevant experience. We recruited new employees with the mindset that they could lead the industry and grow with the company. We trained them for several years with the long-term plan of securing original technology unique to FESCARO. The 2020 cybersecurity regulations were announced, and we were able to lay the foundation for growth.”

CEO of Pescaro Hong Seok-min ⓒReport by Park So-yeon / Photo by Park Sung-rae
CEO of FESCARO Seok-min Hong ⓒReport by So-yeon Park / Photo by Sung-rae Park

Hack the Mobility, FESCARO opens the door to mobility for all

The future of mobility is being reshaped around SDVs. Electric vehicles are redefining the user mobility experience by expanding the consumer footprint with fewer components. To respond to these changes, FESCARO is delivering the most practical software solutions to realize “mobility for all”. The company’s ambition is to lead ecosystem innovation beyond mobility technology. CEO Seok-Min Hong explained that the purpose and function of mobility are diversifying, and ‘mobility for all’ can be interpreted in two ways. The first is safe mobility. This includes SDV, UAM(Urban Air Mobility), PBV(Purpose-Built Vehicle), etc. The second interpretation is to bridge the technology gap in the industry. Hong said the company will continue to work with small and medium-sized players to upgrade, contribute to the development of market diversity, and help pave the way for these developments to benefit consumers.

FESCARO is expanding its cybersecurity-based SDV-type next-generation controller business. As existing controllers have limitations, FESCARO believe that the need for next-generation controllers that integrate major functions into one controller will increase. Currently, there are difficulties for component companies (tiers) in responding to SDV, such as S/W area segmentation, manpower competition, various standards and regulations, and quality issues. Therefore, FESCARO’s ambition is to present a strategic collaboration model that can overcome the difficulties with SDV-type next-generation controllers. FESCARO is also preparing solutions to solve the difficulties and problems faced by OEMs when responding to SDV. These include Zonal ECU and Vehicle Com (HPC) products, SDV DevOps products (IDE-CD/CI/CT), and SDV E/E architecture conversion engineering services. In addition, FESCARO will also showcase its secret card for SDV.

With the slogan “Hack the Mobility”, FESCARO challenges the mobility industry to solve the problems it faces. Hack here refers to creative technical problem solving. The slogan implies that FESCARO will not only fulfill customer requirements, but will also be creative in solving challenges faced by customers in a realistic and effective way. CEO Hong vowed to realize ‘Hack the Mobility’ by providing solutions optimized for customer’s environments and needs.

“If you are facing unanswered questions in the field of automotive software solutions, leave the hard technology to FESCARO. With FESCARO’s technological breakthroughs, sophisticated solutions, and numerous success stories, we’ll find a solution that works for you.”

FESCARO’s success as a de facto Tier 0.5 in the cybersecurity industry has earned it the distinction of being the only company in the country to be recognized for its own hands-on capabilities across the entire vehicle lifecycle. This is a rare achievement, even among the world’s leading organizations. The solid trust that FESCARO has gained from automakers and controller developers by proactively analyzing and addressing the various risks that can arise is the basis for the company’s future growth.

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