Connected car: Where security threats meet new business opportunities

June 27, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The connected car offers many comforts to its users, but it also opens up a new challenges and vulnerabilities. A roundtable in Munich showed that data protection and privacy could even evolve as an asset of the European industry in the global competition.

Hacker attacks to are well documented, and in the relevant circles are the appropriate tool sets offered, along with detailed instructions how to use them. The main reason why hacking cars is (still) far less widespread than hacking credit card accounts is that there is no business case in remotely tampering with another person's vehicle. In contrast to the usual hacking attempts designed to enrich the hacker by deviating money to his account, hacking a car is nothing one can make money with. At least for the time being, as some experts believe.

Since there is no guarantee that this state of relative security will remain for ever (actually, it appears rather unlikely). For this reason, the vehicles should be protected against hacking before we read about a fatal incident in the newspaper. Companies dealing with automotive networking like chipmaker NXP, M2M communication expert company Telit Automotive, security technology consultant secunet or software maker Elektrobit believe that by the time the European emergency call initiative (eCall) will be mandatory in cars, the connected car will become prevalent, with all its benefits and drawbacks. For the automotive industry, it is high time to act, representatives of these four companies agreed in the roundtable. "Just like cars have lockable doors, their electronic interior should have an electronic lock", said Lars Reger, Vice President of NXPs Automotive Business unit.

Willem Bulthuis, board member of secunet Security Networks AG, pointed out that security technologies and best practices are readily and well established in the commercial IT. "The automotive industry does not need to reinvent the wheel", he said. Security mechanisms to protect banks, passports or valuable IP are in place. Nevertheless, the new use cases in the connected car require customized security solutions, Bulthuis pointed out.

The automotive industry, though open to discuss the matter, is slow in address security topics, said Dirk Reimer, Vice President Marketing and Sales from Telit Automotive Solutions. "Security