Going off-road: Will the connected car end up left in the dust?

Last updated: 07 November 2019

Dune bashing is a very common activity in United Arab Emirates. While the locals can easily be classified as natural pros, amateurs like me had to think twice before taking the 4X4 out on the sand. It took some time to get over the fear of the unknown, and the sight of a burnt out 4X4 didn’t help! But once I got the hang of it, it was an amazing experience.

After reading about the hacking of a Jeep, and subsequent recall of 1.4 million Chrysler vehicles, a new fear came to mind; will I really be able to trust my vehicle as it becomes more connected? You certainly wouldn’t want to be hacked while in the desert, unable to drive, and having to take your chance with the sun if you wanted to go and get help.

This is what I was thinking about when I gathered my novice off-road skills and went exploring in the French countryside this weekend. Fortunately, no one hacked my car so I made it back in one piece, able to write this post!

The recent hacking reports of connected cars are a matter for serious attention. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has already issued a formal Vehicle Cybersecurity Report to reassure the public that is working to protect drivers as threats evolve. It is important to realise that the reported hacking is not child’s play, but instead required highly sophisticated techniques to break into the network of the vehicle. But the incident still showed the potential of such a threat.

The security of the Internet of Things is quickly becoming a talking point.

As the automotive industry becomes more connected, with on-demand connectivity now expected by more drivers, perhaps companies should look to model themselves on the IT industry. That’s according to the NHTSA, who stated that the IT industry is the best model for the application of cybersecurity. Car manufacturers also need to make sure they are creating an end-to-end secure connected experience, that could involve fitting embedded secure elements, such as our Trusted Service Hub.

Increasing awareness of security concerns is likely to impact the buying habits of consumers, and this will be a subject of scrutiny in the coming years. If you can reassure customers that a connected car is safe, or even better that it actually increases your safety, then you will have the best chance in reducing any fears about future car hacks.

If you’ve got any concerns about the security of connected cars, or want to know more about keeping your car safe, on- or off-road, tweet @Gemalto or leave comment below. Until my next off-road adventures, over and out!

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