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Frost Perspectives

Automotive Cybersecurity Emerges as a Strategic Priority in an Era of Connected and Autonomous Commercial Vehicles


Dec 13, 2018

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Author by Byron Messaris, Senior Consultant

The age of autonomous vehicle technologies has arrived, bringing with it significant industry and real-world disruption. Many of the world’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturers, from Daimler to Volvo, are prioritising autonomous technologies in their strategies. With the rising prominence and prevalence of these technologies, the building blocks of connected and autonomous systems—safety and security technologies—will become fundamental in day-to-day operations. 

Connected and Autonomous Technologies Are Becoming Real-World Ready

Global transportation is undergoing incredible transformation. It is an era where connectivity, automation and electrification have become the most dominant automotive technology trends. These trends are likely to continue to dominate the industry over the coming five to ten years. Frost & Sullivan forecasts that by 2025, 55% of all trucks in North America and 43% of all trucks in Europe will be connected.

Connectivity and automation in commercial vehicles raises interesting questions about how the safety and security systems of these vehicles will evolve with connected and autonomous technologies. For connected and autonomous vehicles in commercial and public sector fleets, the importance of cybersecurity solutions will only increase with the level of technology adoption and regulation.

Connected vehicles have their own advantages and disadvantages, many of which concern operability, and safety and security. The benefits of increased connectivity and automation in commercial vehicles include reductions in total cost of ownership, improved driver and road safety, fuel efficiency, tracking, and total fleet management health and compliance.

One of the many drawbacks of connected and autonomous technologies in commercial vehicles is the level and sophistication of available automotive cybersecurity solutions.

The consequences of hacking a connected commercial vehicle are substantial when factoring the function they service in complex global supply chains.
“Commercial vehicles carrying high-value goods prove more lucrative in the eyes of hackers in comparison to hacking a passenger vehicle. There is an elevated risk for cybersecurity attacks in case of industrial equipment, hi-tech electronics, and pharmaceuticals which can be valued from few hundred to several million euros”, says Mr Sathya Kabirdas, Research Director - Connected Fleets, at Frost & Sullivan

Not all connected technologies which are currently found in commercial vehicles are products of a consolidated vehicle design process.

“Some of the most pressing threats include attacks on pre- or retro-fitted telematics systems to achieve some fraudulent goal, such as vehicle theft, and data manipulation, such as milometers and navigation,” says Professor Siraj Shaikh, Professor of Systems Security at Coventry University.

The threats to connected and autonomous vehicles will not be universal, and are set to become more challenging to identify as they evolve. Some cyber-threats will be specific to industries and use cases. In mining and logistics, for instance, where automation is growing, the risk profile of the fleets used in these industries will be greater.

“Think of commercial vehicles, these are vehicles that are used for operational purposes, in production or for delivery - if you can tamper with a connected or autonomous vehicle, you can affect the productivity,” says Mr Anders Ekblad, Director Corporate Strategy at Volvo Group.

“That, as you can imagine, will affect businesses, and revenue,” Mr Ekblad adds.

Complex Attack Scenarios Need Unique Defence Solutions

Providing a robust cybersecurity solution with active multi-layer protection for commercial fleets is critical. Further, this solution should be able to address the unique safety requirements of connected and autonomous commercial vehicles. The solution ideally should have future-proof technologies.

A future-proof cybersecurity solution is one which is designed on the premise that the vehicle’s systems can be penetrated in ways that were not observed when the vehicle was designed, and thus should rely on compelling countermeasure-based technology in machine learning (ML).

Over the last few years, new companies and partnerships have emerged in the automotive cybersecurity space.

SafeRide Technologies and Irdeto are just two examples of companies that look to provide such solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s automotive cybersecurity challenges.

SafeRide has developed technologies that, beyond the deterministic and rule-based intrusion detection and prevention of known threats, profile vehicle behaviour and detect anomalies that expose unknown vulnerabilities by using artificial intelligence (AI) and ML. When a new vulnerability is detected by the SafeRide's vSentry™ AI module, preventative actions, including security rules or firmware updates, are activated.

Additionally, SafeRide's strategic partnership with Irdeto adds software protection capabilities to the package, making SafeRide's vSentry solution one of the most comprehensive and advanced cybersecurity solutions available for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Addressing the risks associated with increased connected and autonomous technologies in commercial vehicles should be top priority for all automotive industry stakeholders.

Partnerships show the way forward

Ensuring that commercial vehicles operate with the highest safety and security defences will be paramount for connected and autonomous vehicles operating on public and private roads and infrastructure.

Considering the pace at which technology is developing, relative to the pace of internal development in the automotive industry, Frost & Sullivan anticipates an increased role for collaboration in the automotive industry between automakers and automotive cybersecurity companies.

“OEMs need to partner with cybersecurity companies to ensure that the latest technology in cybersecurity is available to the industry,” Mr Ekblad says.

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