Industry must collaborate to secure driverless future, report argues


A report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) argues the need for greater industry collaboration in developing connected and driverless cars.

The report outlines a variety of potential issues and threats covered in this publication before, from personal data theft to fraud and deception, freight and goods theft and automotive ‘hacktivism’. With the prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT) underpinning any move to connected car technology, the move towards protecting endpoints has stepped up over the past five years, yet malicious threats continue to rise.

Bringing cities to a standstill

The paper examines the recently announced UK autonomous car trials and the potential havoc they could cause. Jamming or interfering with the satellite navigation signals could “severely disrupt” traffic in urban areas and “bring large parts of a city to a standstill,” the researchers state.

Similar to ‘mainstream cyber security’, the researchers argue two key trends will occur in the race to secure connected car technology: no connected computer system is 100% secure, so there will always be the chance of a vulnerability; and there will be a long running ‘arms race’ battle between OEMs and hackers.

The question is: how far do car makers still have to go in terms of treating vehicular cyber security as seriously as passenger safety? With that in mind, the report also discusses the “known problem” of insurance and liability. “Insurance is a hugely influential governing factor in the automotive market,” the report states.

Going forward

KTN and IET recommend several points from the report:

  • Consultation should be encouraged between the automotive industry bodies and cyber-security experts in non-automotive areas
  • A ‘working party’ or ‘consultative committee’, whichever you prefer, should convene to bring parties with an interest in automotive cyber security together
  • Cyber security challenges and issues also need to be identified across all modes of transport
  • Professional bodies, including KTN and IET, should regularly report on how cyber security issues in the automotive sector would affect technical and professional skills; by developing professional skills, prevention is better than cure
  • Thought leadership briefings should be encouraged, one to discover the relationship between the driver and the connected vehicle, and another surrounding ‘grey areas’ over automotive cyber security

Tessa Darley, KTN head of transport, said in a statement: “Connected, driverless cars have the potential to revolutionise how we travel. Lessons learned in developing autonomous technology for cars should be shared and applied to other modes of transport.”

You can check out the full report here. Do you agree with the institutes’ findings?

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15 Mar 2015, 10:43 a.m.

This post is worth everyone's attention. Where can I find out more?