3 Things You Need To Know To Ensure Safety of Connected Vehicle
The race to connected vehicles is well on its way. And, by 2020, there will be 250 million connected cars on the world’s roadways.
Not only do they promise driver, passenger and pedestrian safety, they also open the floodgates to a new world of convenience. Improved, location-based GPS will help drivers get to their destination using the best route based on current traffic flow. Plus, there are the plethora of infotainment services that will give consumers access to content and entertainment like we’ve never had in a car.
Sounds utopian, doesn’t it? Yet, what many IoT security experts continue to ask is how much are we willing to risk in the name of convenience and entertainment? And what can automakers, communication service providers, and IoT developers do to minimize the risks and ensure connected vehicles are safe?
End-to-end vulnerabilities need to be secured
Essentially, the connected vehicle is a computer on wheels. Actually, it’s more like 30 computers. Or in the instance of luxury cars, as many as 100 electronic control systems are working together to control the engine, brakes, airbags, climate, and entertainment. The list grows daily. These are the ones built within the vehicle and doesn’t include the external devices and mobile applications that are connected to the smart car wirelessly or through the OBD2 Port.
Each one of these systems offers an endpoint that if not properly secured could be accessed by hackers. Once in, hackers can take control of your vehicle and its primary functions. This happened a few years ago when hackers hijacked a Jeep Cherokee while driving on the freeway. The experiment, staged by Wired magazine, demonstrates the security vulnerabilities of connected cars. This exposure, however, is more likely to result in auto theft or theft of personal information – email, home addresses or banking and credit card information.
As fast-paced as innovation is in the connected car arena, end-to-end security needs to be ingrained at every level of the production process to ensure smart car safety. From the manufacturing of the car itself as well as the apps, it will house all the way to the carrier networks.
Continuous connectivity needs to be managed
The advancements of 4G LTE technology and the leaps being made with 5G internet are creating a ubiquitously connected world. The improved capability has automakers like BMW and Audi implementing features that will their cars to be more autonomous and are another step towards a driverless car future. It also allows communication between vehicles and physical structures on roadways (e.g., traffic signals, street lights).
Yet, this always-on connectivity comes with greater risks. It requires automakers and their carrier partners to manage access to the network and incoming traffic. Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car company, is protecting their cars by only occasionally connecting it to the Internet. Chrysler made a similar decision after its Jeep Cherokee was hijacked for Wired magazine, asking its carrier, Sprint to shut down all incoming traffic. Tesla offers another option – to build the vehicle by using separate, secured computer systems that control different aspects of the car.
Updates are essential to security
Safety has always been a driving force for automakers. The connected vehicle offers a new dimension of safety. It’s no longer enough to have sound equipment onboard when the vehicle leaves the assembly line. Now, automakers need to ensure their systems and solutions remain up-to-date with the latest version over the lifecycle of the car.
Working with carriers that have networks equipped to employ over-the-air updates is essential to ensuring key upgrades are installed in real-time. Consumers will also need to be educated on the safety requirements in updating any mobile device or app they bring into their connected vehicle.