With robust technological advancements, connected and self-driving vehicles have become one of the biggest global trends in short time. The basic idea of these technologies is to lessen the burden on the driver and keep passengers connected to the outside world. As per statistics, most of the motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) happen due to human error, which is precisely the risk these new automobiles seek to counter.
Advanced dashboard displays offering extensive information on the vehicle functionalities and best routes; internet connectivity with other vehicles, roadside infrastructure, and mobile devices of passengers; and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) equipped with more electronic components than a modern laptop are the defining features of these vehicles
However, almost like just about everything, such extensive connectivity and digitalization have a major downside…the inherent risk of a cyberattack! Internet connectivity means criminals no more need to steal a car physically; it can all be done sitting on a laptop or even with a smartphone, by hacking into the car’s computer and overriding just about every program. This is why software vendors are increasing their focus on the automotive cybersecurity market, which is set to reach $7,280.2 million by 2030.
Cyber risks for individual vehicle owners have been known since at least 2015, when researchers were able to command the controller area network bus of a car, thereby gaining access to the windshield wipers. Similarly, 2019, by manipulating the OEM back-end, scientists were able to get into the door control software. Moreover, one incident included the hacking of the car’s Bluetooth, thereby allowing miscreants to listen in on the passengers’ conversations inside.
Thus, by taking control of the entire connected vehicle, which has happened multiple times in the past, criminals could pose the following serious risks to individual vehicle owners:
Delivery fleet owners, primarily in the two developed regions of the world, already depend strongly on connectivity services, such as telematics and fleet analytics, to optimize their operations and make the out of their resources. This gives criminals a lucrative opportunity to hack into the entire fleet’s centralized software at once, thus posing the following risks:
Practically, the cybersecurity risks for public service agencies, such as urban transportation companies, police and military forces, fire departments, ambulance networks, and even pieces of roadside infrastructure, including traffic lights, digital signboards, street lights, traffic cameras, and automated warning systems, could be even greater. Here are a few specific ones:
Therefore, not only OEMs, but those who own vehicles are vulnerable to a cyberattack, without a robust security system. Thankfully, many governments and international organizations, such as the UN, which has implemented the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, are making everyone aware of these risks. Automakers of connected and self-driving vehicles are being mandated to secure these automobiles as best as possible and demonstrate the functioning of their cybersecurity framework.
This has further given impetus to the field of cyber insurance, which is now finding increasing penetration among owners and makers of automobiles. Hence, with level 4 and level 5 self-driving vehicles expected to be available commercially next year and in 2025, respectively, partnerships between cybersecurity software vendors and automotive companies will become increasingly common and necessary.