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Driving A Safe Future

Cyber-security must become an agenda priority for the automotive industry

The world has just witnessed the vulnerability of global infrastructure and the disaster that can be wrecked by an uncontrolled computer virus.

WannaCry Virus

The “WannaCry” international cyber-attack crippled 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries around the world, including 48 hospitals in the United Kingdom and various global companies operating out of Europe, America and Asia. And while the cyber-attack was somewhat fortuitously slowed down, ICT experts continue to warn us against lowering our guard.

Digital viruses and cyber-attacks have developed and evolved symbiotically with computers and digital devices; however, the rise to pre-eminence of ICT systems that control and connect virtually every aspect of our world has also opened the door to cyber-terrorism. Rogue groups and states strive not only to steal precious information, but also aim to disrupt the global economy by attacking essential utilities such as energy, information and transportation networks.

Autonomous Vehicles

Many of the cars that are on our roads are equipped with a wide range of connected services and features (satellite navigation, e-alert and theft geo-localization systems, etc.) that require over-the-air updates, one of various channels that could provide a hazardous access point for hackers and cyber-terrorists.

Luckily, we still manually and mechanically control the movements of our vehicles, but as we rapidly approach a new horizon of truly autonomous vehicles, it is evident that cyber-security must become a top agenda priority and addressed rapidly and effectively by the automotive industry.

The Supply Chain

The Internet of Things is set to revolutionize our existence and allow us to connect virtually anything to anything. Indeed, from dishwashers to dolls, e-readers to heating systems, we are surrounded by objects with programmable chips that can be accessed and influenced remotely. And our vehicles are no exception.

In the automotive industry, just as in other industries developing complex products, this poses a further threat as every single system and module that is integrated into a vehicle poses an added risk of cyber-intrusion.

OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) integrate a range of different systems from different producers and bear the final responsibility for the security of their products. They must ensure that every supplier provides fully compliant, safe and reliable systems. And not only.

Come Together

What security practices are currently in place? What can – and should – be done to make our vehicles safer? What new regulations and best practices should be implemented throughout the automotive sector? Experts indicate that the industry should take a double approach to providing the final beneficiaries with an optimal level of safety.

First and foremost is the technical aspect. This responsibility should lie with each manufacturer in the supply chain: systems must be specifically designed with sound architectures and powered by optimal code. The hardware and software systems of every product or system must interact flawlessly and allow for swift, easy and efficient updates and maintenance.

The second and more complicated issue regards the creation of alliances. The “good guys” must come together, and work together, to push innovation, user experience and cost competitiveness, whilst satisfying final users and observing all requirements established by regulatory authorities.

New Standards

The cyber-security threat is a new and momentous challenge that the industry must address quickly and efficiently.

Procurement executives will have to negotiate on cyber-security features as strenuously as they do on air-conditioning and braking systems. OEMs will be called upon to actively shape the future standards of the automotive industry and ensure that every part of a vehicle is compliant to cyber-security standards. Every producer in the supply chain will have to step up the ante and quality of its products.

In light of the recent global cyber-attack, the automotive sector, as a whole, is called upon to unite and develop standards and best practices that will effectively counter the novel challenges posed by the 21st Century.

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