Origins and Evolution of Automotive Cyber Security

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Our day-to-day lives revolve around the internet and connected devices, now more than ever before. Many Internet of Things (IoT) devices makes up part of our everyday lives. For the most part, we don’t even always realize exactly how many platforms we are concurrently connected to every day.

All IoT devices have the fundamental requirement to communicate with an external service. Since the large-scale global adoption of IoT devices has gone mainstream, the value of the collected and curated data has dramatically increased. They were driving analytical business intelligence and innovation through artificial intelligence analytics.

You can define cybersecurity as implementing measures to protect such data and the transmission of electronic measures that secure data and systems.
Without cybersecurity, malicious actors would have open access to all our personal, financial, location, and sensory information. Automotive cybersecurity is no different.

Today the automotive industry is rapidly evolving. Vehicles are interfacing with external devices more than ever before. This is indicative of the expanding socioeconomic culture of the automotive industry. Cybersecurity has to be an industry priority to keep this growth plan sustainable.

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Evolution of Automotive Cyber Security

In 1997 GM partnered with Motorola Automotive to bring us the OnStar service. This was one of the first attempts to remotely connect a vehicle to an external service provider. The service provided a safety mechanism where dedicated call centers would be notified when the vehicle was in an accident.

The premise was that emergency services be notified and routed to the accident in the shortest time possible. Although the term was only coined later, this technology turned the vehicle into the first IoT device.

This initial convergence between operational and information technologies sparked a whole new generation of innovation in the automotive industry. Complete ecosystems of connected devices were created that allowed automotive manufacturers to build new software that dramatically enhanced the value of their products, from in-vehicle experiences to autonomous driving, advanced navigation, and predictive services such as customized servicing schedules.

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Today, modern vehicles have nearly 100 million code managing features and sensors lines. This is even more impressive when you realize that a passenger plane only utilizes about 15 million lines of code. Cybersecurity in the automotive industry is critical and will be here to stay.

It might seem as though implementing cybersecurity measures into vehicles is a tad too much. History has unfortunately proven otherwise. Malicious actors have been gaining illegitimate electronic access to vehicles since 2002. Although it might seem trivial that these actors accessed essential elements such as engine management devices and car radios, this was only the start.

There have also been incidents between 2015 and 2016 where malicious actors gained complete control over a moving vehicle—intercepting and controlling crucial systems like a vehicle’s steering wheel and brake system. In recent years, some motorists found themselves in ransomware situations where malicious actors would disable their vehicles until they had paid a ransom.

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Automotive cybersecurity has become a necessity across all connected vehicles. It aims to: defend against intrusion and consistently monitor and log events. It even aims to provide support in the case of a security breach.

Included in cybersecurity, some organizations provide cybersecurity services such as security penetration testing. They are putting the connected ecosystem of the vehicle to test to identify possible vulnerabilities. Manufacturers can then rectify and improve their onboard security models to make the vehicle safer, updating their best practices along the way.

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Wrapping Up

In the future, the automobile will become a part of a hyper-connected mobility ecosystem and part of critical infrastructure in our daily lives. This will mean that vehicles would rapidly generate vast volumes of data over short periods, integrating with the cloud in real-time.

You can only achieve this industry’s success and sustainability by collaborating with peers and strong business partners. With 5G becoming mainstream and quantum computing on the horizon, cybersecurity cannot just be seen as an added extra. It needs to become central to the way we approach automotive design.