Connected cars require a similar approach to cyber protection as companies

By September 10, 2013
connected car

With the development of smart cars increasingly designed like mobile platforms, automobiles are becoming just as vulnerable to hacking as any other connected device. Manufacturers will therefore need to balance personalized car management with cyber security.



Now that the automobile is increasingly becoming a connected spacewith embedded systems directly linked to the Internet and controlled remotely from mobile devices, it is also becoming more and more vulnerable to hacking and malicious appropriation of data. The development of apps enabling access to vehicle Controller Area Networks (CAN) such as Ford and General Motors already offer raises a number of questions with regard to the general security of the vehicle. Quite apart from the consequences of data misappropriation, hacking into road vehicles may prove life-threatening, given that hackers could well also be able to tamper with the ABS and other navigation systems.


Single network for all ‘connected’ functionality?


Drawing on its expertise in the field of company network systems, Cisco Systems is now offering a single network which protects the identity of the owner of the vehicle and his/her confidential data, while at the same time providing a seamless automated service. Cisco has teamed up with German auto parts and systems manufacturer Continental to endeavor to set a single secure interface standard for all models of connected cars. The principle is identical to practices designed to protect company data servers: each car would be secured by the same Cisco-managed network, monitoring on an ongoing basis the in- and outflows of information and restricting access to the central system. In practice, Cisco is proposing to connect the vehicle using 3G, 4G and WiFi access while at the same time providing a dedicated connected-car Cloudservice which would act as a sort of ‘middleman’ to the Internet. Both the Cloud and the car would then provide firewalls against cyber-attacks.


Secure system enabling a more personalized approach


Cisco and Conti claim that with this secured interface it will be more straightforward to get the car system up and running and that it will be much easier to switch between user profiles. Following the ‘infotainment’ trend, the Cisco/Continental vehicle system allows for a change of driving style for each individual driver, modifying the fuel economy mode and the assisted driving system. Personalizing the car along the lines of a permanently connected mobile platform promises to change the overall driving experience. Cisco claims moreover that this technology could achieve savings of over $1,400 per year per user, mainly due to cheaper insurancepolicies and more efficient traffic management, in addition to more effective accident prevention.


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