Connected vehicles are intended to be designed and built with security as a foundational requirement. However, vehicles are no longer islands of electro-mechanical engineering; rather, they are components of a larger system of systems, which integrates the vehicle, roads, manufacturer and consumer to provide a safe, secure transportation experience.
With the advent of a perpetually connected society, people naturally expect to expand the digital experience into their vehicles. In effect, car owners want their vehicle to become a personal node on a network of rolling, connected devices. And automakers have a complementary interest in monitoring vehicles remotely to proactively detect and respond to warranty and maintenance needs.
But this functionality comes with risks and potentially fatal consequences. Researchers have already proven that modern, computerized vehicles can be hijacked with just a laptop computer and easily obtained software. Hackers can display false telemetry on the dashboard, wrest the steering away from the in-cabin driver and even apply the brakes or switch off the engine remotely when the vehicle is at high speed on a crowded freeway.
In addition to safety dangers, drivers and passengers face security and privacy threats. Private information on smart phones, such as e-mail, text messages, contacts and other personal data, could be stolen by intruders or hackers. Burglars could use vehicle location, provided by global positioning systems (GPS), to ensure a home's occupants are still miles away, giving the thieves confidence to conduct a thorough search for valuables to maximize their take.
Much as they expect anti-lock brakes, airbags and seat belts as standard features rather than aftermarket or retrofitted options, today’s consumers demand digital security that is delivered unobtrusively with the vehicle. This realization will drive new revenues for forward-looking suppliers and manufacturers, as well as decreased costs for consumers and original equipment manufacturers. Those that can deliver the safety and convenience features consumers desire while also assuring their safety and security stand to leverage the true power of the connected vehicle.
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About the author
Security Strategist, IBM Institute for Business Value, IBM Global Business Services
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