Economy, Auto

Car Industry Races to Address Cybersecurity Risks

Toyota Motor aims to install connected technologies by 2020 in all its noncommercial vehicles for sale in Japan and the US.Toyota Motor aims to install connected technologies by 2020 in all its noncommercial vehicles for sale in Japan and the US.

As automakers rapidly adopt connected and automated technologies, the race is on to protect these vehicles from cyber attacks and computer viruses.

Toyota Motor aims to install connected technologies by 2020 in all its noncommercial vehicles for sale in Japan and the US, starting with the new Corolla hatchback and Crown sedan launched in June. With these technologies, vehicles can “communicate” with drivers, theoretically making driving safer and more efficient, Asia Nikkei reported.

In the US, Subaru too announced its vision to make connected car services available in more than 80% of new vehicles sold in Japan, the US and Canada by 2022. Tokyo-based market research specialist Fuji Keizai estimates that more than 100 million connected cars will be on the roads by 2035, accounting for 96.3% of all vehicles sold that year.

Yet, their vulnerability to cyber attacks is prompting companies, from suppliers to insurers, to develop protective solutions. Some jurisdictions and industry groups are also preparing guidelines for the market, which are hoped to draw more players into the market.

In 2015, two researchers succeeded in remotely turning off a Jeep Cherokee engine while it was being driven, which resulted in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recalling 1.4 million such vehicles in the US.

Cars made by Toyota, Ford Motor and Tesla are among those being tested by hackers in organized experiments. Hackers were able to send commands to the vehicles’ network to control braking and accelerating, potentially take over keys and certificates, wiretap networks and even overwrite commands from drivers.

 Cybersecurity Software

Auto parts and audiovisual products maker Harman International, an American subsidiary of Samsung, is working with carmakers to create software to block such attacks. It hopes to see its automotive cybersecurity software adopted in some vehicles in the US and Europe by the end of this year.

The software protects these vehicles by putting up shields to ward off attacks via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, inter-vehicle networks and other entry points that hackers can penetrate. Its technology detects electrical signals in these networks, with a special algorithm that disables the ability of automobiles to react to false commands. The company also provides automakers with cybersecurity analysis.

Asaf Atzmon, Harman senior director of business development and marketing for automotive cybersecurity, said, “[The software] is capable of selecting valuable information to be sent from vehicles needed to update algorithms.”

In March, Harman announced a two-year collaboration with France’s Groupe PSA on cybersecurity solutions, including consulting and preproduction work, to establish next-generation security services.

 Tight Race

Other parts suppliers have also been investing in cybersecurity startups focused on connected cars. Japan’s Denso invested in US-based automotive security companies DellfFer and ActiveScaler earlier this year.

Insurance companies, too, are getting in on the act. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance agreed in April to work on research in the area with White Motion, a joint venture between Japanese auto parts maker Calsonic Kansei and French cybersecurity company Quarkslab. It hopes to be able to come up with standards for insurance payouts as a result of cybersecurity breaches by 2019.

The key to the development of this new industry is determining who is ultimately responsible for accidents. Research has shown that hackers can plant a virus in the car’s black box that can erase any evidence of attacks.

However, risk consultant Woody Epstein said, “It is impossible to fully prove the accuracy of the program of autonomous cars or its complete protection from any measure of attacks.”

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