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Securing the future of connected cars

Manoj Kumar Rai, Head of M2M Solutions, South Asia & Japan, Gemalto | Dec. 23, 2015
In this article, Manoj Kumar Rai, Head of M2M Solutions, South Asia & Japan, talks about the “3Cs” contributing to the boom of connected cars, growing security concerns, and best practices for overcoming security challenges.

Before the introduction of connected cars, engine, transmission, and brakes were largely closed systems. They are either manually operated by the drivers, or with additional computer inputs. Now with added Internet connectivity, a connected car is no longer operating in silo, but belongs to part of a significantly large IoT ecosystem, which is intertwined and constantly exchanging information.

IHS Automotive predicted about 30 terabytes of data would be collected each day, from the 152 million[4] connected cars plying the roads by 2020, casting the spotlight on the secure exchange and management of data. But as security for this field is relatively new, standards and best practices are still in the works. In the meantime, a holistic risk evaluation must be performed to protect such vehicles and their users.

How to overcome the massive security challenges

It is therefore paramount to adopt proactive security designed right from the beginning - to achieve a more robust connected car, security can no longer be an option or just an afterthought. Here are three best practices, which automobile manufacturers should consider.

  • Define end-to-end protection for vehicular subsystems, applications, network, data, and back-end infrastructure during the early conceptualization stage, through thorough risk analysis and security evaluation.
  • Secure each vulnerable data point in the ecosystem with an appropriate security architecture, using a combination of these solutions, services and platforms:
    - Tamper-proof, hardware-based, and embedded security measure (secure element) to shield data against local and remote intrusions.
    - Secure provisioning solution, capable of safeguarding cellular network connectivity and OTA downloads for the entire car lifecycle.
    - Encryption and authentication solutions to prevent hacks, and protect confidential data at the core and peripheral of the ecosystem.
  • Constantly assess and upgrade the security framework in tandem with the evolving automotive and threat landscapes.

Security lapse for connected cars can endanger lives

The future of connected cars rests heavily on a secured ecosystem and environment; ensuring these vehicles can interact reliably with other IoT devices. With carefully planned and trusted solutions that are flexible, yet robust enough for the ever-changing industry and consumer needs, car makers can deliver connected vehicles that are safer to own and drive. 

After all, as the world gets increasingly connected, so does the security risk. Criminals and hacktivists will always be waiting to exploit new technologies. In this case, even the slightest security lapse can put lives at risk - imagine losing control, or worst, brakes on a highway. Moreover, the threat posed by malwares and security breaches will only intensify, as more autonomous vehicles hit our roads.


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