Digital car built of network objects
#Connected cars

Who’s in the driving seat?

Global Trends
6 Mins.

New connectivity capabilities and advancements in IoT are creating a bold new world for the automotive sector. But drivers need to be assured that their security and privacy are being looked after before they take the wheel in a truly connected car

Cars have gone from standalone devices with limited electronics to fully connected vehicles, with systems integrated with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. Smartphones are an integral part of the automotive experience, while entertainment, navigation, and engine functions can now self-report their diagnostic status to cloud-based operators.

Manfred Broy, a professor of informatics at Technical University, Munich, has estimated that connected cars contain close to 100 million lines of code – more than a commercial aircraft, a fighter jet and Facebook combined. Add over 30,000 component parts, up to 100 electronic control units (ECUs), and around 25GB of data created every hour, and it’s clear that connected cars will need securing, patching and updating regularly.

5G network security concerns?

The 5G network will be the fundamental enabler of the next phase of connected cars: autonomous driving. The ultra-low latency characteristic of 5G will enable faster response times to new traffic situations.

Cars with autonomous systems that take advantage of 5G will broadcast information about themselves to other cars, and to the surrounding infrastructure, all operating as a moving entity within a network.

“While drivers can be tracked today via their smartphones, they can still shut the phone off to escape such capabilities“
Marc Canel
VP of Security, Imagination Technologies

As 5G capabilities become more mainstream and influential in the automotive sector, manufacturers must ensure that each remote vehicle and its data is secure, including all and any data that is being transferred to and from a central site.

“While drivers can be tracked today via their smartphones, they can still shut the phone off to escape such capabilities,” says Marc Canel, VP of Security at Imagination Technologies, which designs chips for connected and autonomous cars.

With the introduction of 5G networks, manufacturers now have a more robust means of updating vehicles “over the air.” Beyond that, upcoming systems will track drivers’ skills at operating the car, how they respect road laws, and their attention levels, alertness, and mood. It won’t be long before cars will also be able to fully integrate payment systems for tolls and on-demand content and guidance.

The more cars advance in this way, however, the more data they create – and this data could be targeted. This will also be high on the radar of the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), which oversees compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Is personal data secure in connected vehicles?

Mobile connected with a car
Cars used to be spaces where consumers could disconnect from the outer world – now they are in effect connectivity hubs

Driver assistance features, including park assist, blind-spot warnings and crash avoidance, as well as navigation and real-time traffic services, all require connectivity. Where cars were once spaces where consumers could disconnect from the outer world, they are now in effect connectivity hubs.

As apps move from phones to cars, and power connected and autonomous vehicles, they need to be trustworthy, reliable, and transparent.

“With drivers increasingly embracing the freedom that connected cars give them, the amount of data being collected on them can sometimes be forgotten,” says Cassandra Moons, data protection officer at TomTom®.

Maintaining security standards

Standards bodies around the world are beginning to work more closely with governments and industry to develop these standards, with data privacy and cybersecurity key priority areas.

The CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium, of which G+D Mobile Security is a member, has been working in collaboration with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute and European Committee for Standardization to create standards that ensure the safe interoperability of cooperative systems.

The growing number of programs set up to develop standards for connected vehicles also include efforts, such as by the British Standards Institution (BSI), to examine how and if car leasing and hire companies and auction houses are removing personal data that may have been stored by the vehicle.

IoT will no doubt transform the driving experience for the better – but that should not be at the expense of either physical or virtual security.

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