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What Is Automotive Cybersecurity? Top 12 Examples

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26th Sep, 2023
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What Is Automotive Cybersecurity? Top 12 Examples

Welcome to a world in which cars are more than simply vehicles; they are intelligent, allied companions on our trips. However, with this technological expansion comes a new issue: protecting our automobiles from cyber assaults. Consider hackers infiltrating your car’s systems, gaining remote control, or stealing your personal information. This is where automotive cybersecurity comes in. It acts as a coat of armour for your vehicle’s computer brain, protecting it from digital intruders and ensuring that your journey is both cutting-edge and safe. 

This blog will walk you through the fundamentals of cybersecurity in automotive industry, deciphering the technical terms and uncovering the mystery behind the scenes. So strap in as we investigate how this digital guardian is changing how we interact with cars and safety.

Understanding Automotive Cybersecurity

Automotive cybersecurity acts as a shield, protecting our modern automobiles from computer-based threats. Cars, like homes, require protection from hackers who may attempt to steal data or even take control of a car. Cars are becoming increasingly like machines on wheels, exposing them to cyber dangers.

Cars now come equipped with screens, GPS, and even autonomous capabilities. These wonderful features also imply that hackers have additional ways to break in. Imagine how terrifying it would be if someone could remotely take control of a car’s steering or brakes.

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To prevent this, automobile cybersecurity employs unique locks in the form of operating systems and protocols. It encrypts important data, such as your location, and prevents unauthorised access. The electronic systems in your car act as a virtual bodyguard. Like your phone receives updates to keep it secure, manufacturers likewise distribute upgrades to fix weak points. 

Why Is Automotive Cybersecurity Important?

Imagine driving down the road when your car’s brakes suddenly fail, or worse, your steering becomes erratic – all because a shady hacker accessed your car’s brain. Scary, right? That is why car cybersecurity is so important. As automobiles progress into extremely complex computers on wheels, they become vulnerable to hacking and unauthorised access, which can have significant implications. Listed below are a few reasons that make automotive cybersecurity so important:

  • Safety issues: Critical vehicle systems like the brakes or steering can be compromised by hackers, putting the lives of drivers, travellers, and even passersby in peril. These eventualities are avoided through good cybersecurity, ensuring the car remains in the driver’s control.
  • Data protection: Sensitive information, such as personal data and driving patterns, is collected and transmitted by modern vehicles. Without adequate vehicle cybersecurity, this data might be taken and used inappropriately, endangering privacy and security.
  • Preventing Theft and Tampering: Hackers may take advantage of security flaws to steal automobiles or turn off measures that protect against theft, making it simpler for criminals to commit theft or other illegal actions.
  • Maintaining Trust: As connected vehicles proliferate, users must have faith in the security of their vehicles. This trust might be damaged by a lack of cybersecurity, which would affect the implementation of new automobile technologies.
  • Financial Loss: Besides the financial strain on car owners, a successful cyber assault could result in pricey repairs, possible recalls, and legal repercussions for automakers.

Whether you’re a tech enthusiast or just like a smooth ride, it’s critical to comprehend the significance of automobile cybersecurity. It keeps our vehicles on the digital superhighway safe, secure, and operating without a hitch. Hence, the significance of cybersecurity professionals cannot be overstated in the present day.

Unmasking Different Types of Cybersecurity Attacks

The significance of automotive cybersecurity has risen to the fore in an era where our cars have transformed into smart, connected computers on wheels. Potential cyber-enemies are becoming as sophisticated as our cars. Let’s examine the many kinds of car cybersecurity threats:

  • Attacks on Critical Infrastructure: Attacks on vital infrastructure like a car’s steering, brakes, or engine can have disastrous results, endangering lives and causing havoc on the roads.
  • Attacks on Applications, Systems, and Processes: In this attack, hackers use flaws in a car’s software and systems to compromise features like infotainment, navigation, or essential safety. The effects can be extensive, ranging from functions being disabled to unauthorised access.
  • Network attacks: Data sent between various automotive parts or vehicles and other systems is manipulated in a network attack. Such data tampering may result in the interception of private information or the modification of control systems.
  • Attacks on the Cloud: Modern cars are becoming increasingly connected to the cloud for services like internet upgrades and data storage. Attacks directed at the cloud have the potential to corrupt updates, reveal private car data, and interrupt vital services.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) attacks: Hackers may exploit holes in connectivity between automobiles and external devices when cars join the Internet of Things (IoT). Unauthorised parties can get access to and alter car functionalities by breaching the IoT ecosystem. 

Threats to automotive cybersecurity are no longer limited to the fictional world. Strong cybersecurity measures are necessary to maintain our safety on the road and defend the digital integrity of our cars as they develop into sophisticated, interconnected systems. Ensuring that our vehicles are adequately protected against these hidden cyber threats in the same way that we belt up for a safe drive is essential.

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Automotive Cybersecurity Solutions

The goal of automotive cybersecurity solutions is to safeguard contemporary automotive systems and safeguard automobiles from cyber threats while also ensuring their security, privacy, and functionality. These technologies protect automobiles from potential flaws and threats while addressing vehicles’ growing complexity and connectivity. Among the most important automotive cybersecurity solutions are:

  • Encryption: Using reliable encryption methods to protect data sent between internal and external systems, networks, and vehicle components.
  • Firewalls: Applying firewalls to a vehicle’s network allows for the monitoring and managing of data flow while thwarting malicious invasions and unauthorised communications.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS): These systems keep track of the networks and parts of vehicles in real-time, spotting and blocking any suspicious activity or unauthorised access attempts.
  • Secure Boot and Firmware Verification: Ensure that only legitimate and authorised software can run on vehicle control units to prevent unauthorised alterations.
  • Access Control: Restricting access to vehicle systems through robust authentication and authorisation processes to stop unauthorised users from taking over.
  • Over-the-Air (OTA) Updates Security: Using safe techniques to update car software while assuring its validity and preventing possible tampering.
  • Security Audits and Penetration Testing: Regularly evaluating automotive systems for vulnerabilities via penetration testing and security audits, spotting weak spots before nefarious attackers take advantage of them.
  • Cybersecurity Training and Awareness: To lower human-related security risks, the automobile industry’s professionals, including developers, engineers, and end users, are taught cybersecurity best practices.

In the age of connected and automated driving, these technologies combine to create a strong defence against cyber-attacks, ensuring that vehicles stay secure, dependable, and safe. 

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12 Examples of Automotive Cybersecurity Measures

Connected vehicle cybersecurity is a dynamic field that evolves with technology. Maintaining the technologies and techniques used to defend our vehicles is crucial in this dynamic field. Here are 12 significant instances of automotive cybersecurity that shed light on how our cars can be protected against potential dangers:

  • Firewalls and Gateways: Putting up virtual walls to stop unauthorised access with firewalls and gateways.
  • Biometric Authentication: Utilising distinctive personal characteristics like fingerprints or facial recognition to unlock automobiles.
  • Behaviour Analysis: Observing driving patterns for irregularities that might point to hacking attempts.
  • Blockchain Technology: Implementing blockchain technology guarantees data transferred between infrastructure and automobiles is accurate.
  • Two-factor Authentication: Bolstering security by applying two separate verification processes.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS): Detecting and preventing cyber-attacks in real-time.
  • Secure Boot Process: Ensure only reputable software is installed on an automobile’s ECU.
  • Data Encryption: Keeping confidential information from being accessed and used improperly.
  • Firmware Updates: Keeping security patches up-to-date on the car’s software.
  • Security Operation Centers: Establishing facilities to track and address cybersecurity threats is known as “security operation centres”.
  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Encryption: Securing inter-vehicle communication to stop unauthorised access.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Constantly scanning the cybersecurity environment for new threats. 

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A Brief Overview of ISO 21434 Cybersecurity Standard

Globally, ISO 21434 is recognised as the foundation of automotive cybersecurity. This worldwide standard serves as a crucial road map for manufacturers, developers, and other industry participants to ensure the safety of contemporary cars. The ISO 21434 cybersecurity standard serves as a strong guardian as the automotive industry embraces the power of technology. It provides standards and best practices for identifying, managing, and reducing cybersecurity risks throughout a vehicle’s lifecycle. 

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This standard guarantees that cybersecurity is smoothly incorporated throughout all vehicle development and use phases, protecting them from potential threats. The ISO 21434 cybersecurity standard emerges as a crucial tool in a world where safety and digital innovation coexist, guaranteeing that our trips into the linked future are both exciting and secure.

Automotive Cybersecurity and Privacy Regulations

  • Safety Priority: Consumer safety is prioritised through regulations, which impose stringent cybersecurity safeguards to reduce potential risks.
  • Data security: They adhere to tight processes to protect user information and maintain privacy. 
  • Trust Assurance: Regulations increase consumer confidence in the automotive industry by establishing standardised security procedures.
  • Global Standardisation: Global standardisation laws uphold uniform security requirements worldwide, fostering a coordinated strategy for vehicle cybersecurity.
  • Industry Accountability: Manufacturers are held accountable for security lapses, encouraging a proactive approach to security.
  • Collaborative Efforts: Regulations encourage stakeholder cooperation to handle new hazards collectively.
  • Balanced Progress: They combine innovation and security to advance the market while protecting users. 
  • Adapting Landscape: The regulatory environment changes as technology advances, steering the automotive industry towards a safe and bright future.

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As a result of the exciting developments in linked automobiles, an era of extraordinary utility and convenience is predicted. However, the future is not devoid of difficulties. As our protector, automotive cybersecurity is on the lookout for any attacks that could jeopardise the security of our cars and, subsequently, our own. 

Vehicular cybersecurity paves the way for a future in which our smart vehicles symbolise modernity and are a testament to the collective dedication to safety in the digital age. By adopting a multifaceted approach incorporating durable solutions, global norms and compliance with regulations, automotive cybersecurity companies can become the harbinger of a new generation of transformative automation.


Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Are computerised cars a cyber threat?

The rising reliance on software and connection in automated cars can make them more susceptible to cyber assaults. These systems could be vulnerable to hacker attacks, allowing someone to take control of the vehicle and gain unauthorised access.

2Can connected cars be hacked?

Without adequate automotive cybersecurity protections in place, connected automobiles can be compromised. Connectivity creates possible entry points for hostile actors while improving convenience and functionality simultaneously.

3What is an example of a connected car?

The Tesla lineup illustrates connected vehicle cybersecurity. The integration of technology and communication in contemporary automobiles is demonstrated by Tesla vehicles, which have cutting-edge technologies like autopilot capability and over-the-air software updates.

4Does Tesla have cybersecurity?

Tesla prioritises connected car cybersecurity. The corporation emphasises the significance of protecting connected vehicles from cyber threats by dedicating a team to locating and resolving potential vulnerabilities in the software and systems of its vehicles.

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