Data-driven vehicles: The next security challenge
Companies are increasingly building smart products that are tailored to know the individual user. In the automotive world, the next generation passenger vehicle could behave like a personal chauffeur, sentry and bodyguard rolled into one.

Over the next decade, every car manufacturer that offers any degree of autonomy in a vehicle will be forced to address the security of both the vehicle and your data, while also being capable of recognizing and defending against threats against you or the vehicle.

This isn’t entirely new territory. Manufacturers and their software development partners have been developing, implementing and evolving their security practices and threat detection techniques for the past 20 years. The knowledge and awareness gained from these experiences will be essential as vehicles become more autonomous and new vehicle-related risks to personal security emerge. But as manufacturers ramp up their efforts to get autonomous vehicles in the hands of consumers and on the road, there must be a radical shift in how they think about securing them.

Today, many new vehicles are based on older designs that have been retrofitted with “smart” technology (e.g., sensors, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc.). With an urgency to get cars that enhance the driver and passenger experience, the industry has, to date, been comfortable using COTS (commercial/consumer off-the-shelf) technology for things like sound systems, navigation systems, tablet-based console controls, etc. In retrofitting vehicle designs and systems, however, some manufacturers may have unintentionally exposed security vulnerabilities. For instance, the addition of a tablet-based control console can create a new attack vector for hackers to use against a vehicle.

To their credit, automotive OEMs have recognized the challenges posed by smarter, more connected vehicle platforms and have made security a focus. As a result, your next car may have more in common with a military fighter jet.

Just as a fighter has many levels of security, threat detection and threat deterrents built into it, so will your vehicle. Your next vehicle will likely recognize you via facial recognition, bio-patterns, touch or some combination of those. These techniques will enable the vehicle to know you and other authorized drivers and possibly even recognize unknown passengers and seek your approval of them.

Likewise, the vehicle will likely observe and learn your patterns of behavior and check in with you if it detects something odd or abnormal. When a person is perceived as a “stranger,” your vehicle will watch how you react, seek confirmation and then “decide” how to behave.

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