Software Holds the Key to Connected Car Security

by VPNHaus | 09/24/2018

Software is fast becoming the most important component of the modern car. Already, digital engineering advances that enhance attributes like fuel efficiency, engine management and in-car entertainment are commonplace.

If analyst predictions are right, then this is just the start. The imminent prospect of millions of mobile systems relying on constant two-way remote communication with vehicle makers is causing many industry observers to ask serious questions about the future security and privacy of auto data.

New smart applications are appearing all the time although 5G bandwidth needs to be widely available for their embedded telematics to work at its best.

Meanwhile software like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) holds the key to connected car security for its ability to shield sensitive data against the actions of hackers and spies.

Little Black Boxes on Wheels

For some time, new drivers have been among the first people to benefit from telemetry in the car. Insurers often provide new drivers with a little black box that measures the quality of their driving in exchange for lower premiums.

Much like the PC modem in the early days of the Internet the telematics box’s time is destined to be short-lived. Very soon a piece of firmware embedded in the vehicle’s engine management system will be able to provide insurers with all the data they need about the habits of any driver, rendering the telematics box obsolete.

Industry analysts estimate there will be 200 million Internet-connected cars on the roads by 2020. On board computer systems will provide drivers with location, traffic and weather data in real time while simultaneously communicating with smart city infrastructure and manufacturer remote diagnostics.

By this point, a significant proportion of car owners will be driving around in the vehicular equivalent of a little black box on wheels.

5G to Accelerate the Connected Car

Mobile networking in cars is entirely dependent on bandwidth. While today’s 4G speeds work for some services they are a little slow for seamlessly delivering many of the connected car’s star applications.

This has not dissuaded a number of the auto industry’s telematics partners from developing next-generation infotainment and central control platforms in readiness for the market explosion to come.

5G bandwidth is not thought to be widely available for another few years, but when faster bandwidth to the car does arrive then in-car bandwidth will need to keep pace.

Leading high-speed networking brands plan to have a central role and are already teaming up with auto manufacturers in anticipation.

Spies and Scams

Tomorrow’s car owners are expected to drive around with a treasure trove of personal data on board. The connected car will record everything from your speed, fuel consumption and braking to your music tastes, phone calls and favorite places to eat.

Manufacturers say this data collection is vital to help improve their customer service. Meanwhile advertisers, government and law enforcement agencies also want access to this information. But senior cybersecurity figures have voiced concerns that such abundance of data will make cars an irresistible target for hackers and spies.

Researchers have demonstrated how it may be possible to hack a connected car using good old-fashioned social engineering techniques. They used a public hotspot to trick a connected car owner into downloading a malicious smartphone app on the pretext that it would let them claim a free burger from a nearby restaurant.

Faced with such risks, security is one of the auto industry’s biggest challenges. The market for connected car security technology is expected to reach 33 billion euros by 2020.

Protecting Auto Data

In addition to unprotected smartphones, unencrypted data connections with smart city systems, remote manufacturer services, over-the-air software updates or even household IoT all have the potential to jeopardize connected car security. 

Professional VPN software holds the key to protecting private auto data from hackers and spies. A VPN establishes an encrypted connection that shields the two-way communications content over the Internet between a moving vehicle and remote server locations.

It ensures data connections remain private and secure even over open public Wi-Fi.

In summary, until 5G bandwidth speeds and connected car technology are more commonplace than today, the chances of your car being hacked are quite small.

A more pressing concern is ensuring the wealth of personal data held by centralized control units and engine management systems can only be seen by authorized parties.

In the future, thanks to smart vehicle systems, we may live in an era where the last person in control of a car is the driver. Yet there one thing we can count on.

VPN software will continue to hold the key to secure, authenticated connectivity for all forms of connected car data.