Double-edged sword of cybersecurity and connected cars


We at Cybalt believe that with new improvements in the field of automotive technology, cars have become more digitized. The concept of connected technology has enabled new in-vehicle capabilities, for example, over-the-air (OTA) updates and features-on-demand (FOD). As we maneuver along the track and appreciate the automotive industry’s benefits, we often seem to be impedimental by ever-increasing cybersecurity threats.

OT: The World of Connected Cars

Cybalt has extensively researched the world of connected cars and associated cybersecurity aspects too. We have a strong opinion that the automotive industry is speeding up with connected technological updates. Cars have appealing hardware along with intelligent software to exploit the technology like never before. These cars explore the automotive industry via well-defined software for better user interaction and digitally packed hardware to ensure proper functionality. Both the hardware and software collectively are known as firmware. The firmware is contextually referred to as “operational technology” (OT). We have observed that although OT security is of prime importance for the automotive industry, the cybersecurity aspect cannot be underestimated.

Over-The-Air (OTA) Updates

The cars are loaded with technological wonders, for example, voice assistants, to make driving enjoyable and also make the journey an unforgettable experience. Some of the most famous brands provide such services to their owners via OTA updates. Similarly, there are brands that enable clients with in-car range assistant apps for enhancing efficiency, eco-climate apps to optimize power demand, and apps to improve battery performance in cars. We need to optimize our approach to cybersecurity for these OTA updates.

Features-On-Demand (FOD)

Like OTA, FOD is yet another connected technology that has taken the automotive industry way ahead of its time. With FOD, we can modify the car’s design, development, and the way vehicle manufacturers visualize the vehicle before it materializes with unique extra features. The basic concept of connected technology enables several upgrades with improved range, over-the-top connectivity, better efficiency, and a mesmerizing driving experience. Like OTA, we can manage FODs in a better way by streamlining the cybersecurity around these features.

Cybalt notifies that the role of the manufacturers is to control the device management software (DMS) and update the hardware with the latest advancements. We update the programs, provide new features, make improvements, and manage bugs. We also upload DMS to a cloud-based server and share it with the owners through a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. Here, we must also ensure complete adherence to the cybersecurity upgrades.

Ever-increasing Cybersecurity Threats

The team at Cybalt communicated that with the advancements in the field of automotive technology, there is a rapid growth in cybersecurity threats. These threats pose a big risk not only for car manufacturers but also for fleet operators and insurers. Cybalt’s recent surveys show an associated cybersecurity risk of upgrading DMS, thereby resulting in compromised systems. The investigations depict numerous incidents where cybersecurity was mismanaged, leading to exploited owners.

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Ever-increasing cybersecurity threats in the field of automotive technology

The systems are found to be vulnerable while managing the potential revenue processes for the automotive sector. It is largely due to the involvement of application programming interfaces (APIs) between different pieces of software. There is an exponential increase in these API attacks, too.

At Cybalt, we recognize “hats”, a range of groups primarily responsible for all the attacks against connected automotive systems. Hats are further categorized as white, black, and grey hats. The white hats plug cybersecurity gaps, the black hats exploit vulnerabilities, and the grey hats are a link between the white and black hats. At times, the owners’ hackers also try to unlock certain features within their vehicles.

Better Opportunities

Cybalt acknowledges that the automotive sector is looking for better opportunities in terms of smart mobility ecosystems, mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), subscription services, and third-party mobile applications. However, all these opportunities must be complemented with proper risk management to secure personal safety as well as sensitive data. We have observed a tremendous growth in infrastructural attacks related to electric-vehicle (EV) infrastructure. These attacks are largely encountered at charging points.

We estimate the automotive cybersecurity market to be valued at USD 450 million in 2021. It is also estimated to register a compound annual growth rate of more than 20% between 2022 and 2030. Cybalt ensures a major growth in the demand for cybersecurity due to increasing incidents of cyberattacks, impacting the connected car landscape.

We have realized that for effective management of OT security, we need to implement various regulations and standards. These implementations are also vital for the effective management of OT security. Cybalt recommends the need for standard operating procedures (SOPs) for a high standard of cybersecurity analysis. As a result, automotive companies must plan and manage the double-edged sword of connected cars and cybersecurity.

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