How to ensure cybersecurity in the automotive industry
The technology in the automotive industry is developing rapidly. Unfortunately, cybercriminals easily keep pace with this progress. They continuously find new ways to exploit the fact that modern cars are connected to the internet. We have previously discussed the main cybersecurity threats in the automotive industry, why this sector is highly attractive to hackers, and the specific threats one needs to be prepared for. Now, it's time to answer the question of how the automotive industry can secure itself to minimize the risk of successful cyber attacks, thus avoiding significant financial and reputational losses. Take a closer look at our guidelines on how to ensure IT security in your company or organization.
- Look at cybersecurity holistically
- Train the entire staff
- Beware of ransomware attacks
- Provide regular updates
- Focus on Apps
- Reward bug detection
- Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
- Be cautious of the user
Look at cybersecurity holistically
Be aware that hackers are ready to attack at every stage – from the production process, through supply chain areas, to the end product. Even if a finished car reaches the customer, you can't rest on your laurels because your responsibility doesn't end at that moment.
Cybercriminals willingly hack automotive companies themselves, aiming to obtain a range of valuable data or extort a high ransom. However, they also frequently focus on cars on the roads, targeting ordinary users whose data is also highly valuable. Therefore, remember that you must take a comprehensive look at all security systems and not overlook any stage when creating a cybersecurity management strategy.
Train the entire staff
Everyone working for an automotive company – from factory workers and programmers to the management team – should be aware of the lurking threats in the online environment and recognize potentially dangerous situations. Human error is the most common cause of a successful cyber attack, and the automotive industry is no exception. One person clicking on a link with malicious software or downloading a dangerous attachment is enough to infect many, or even all, computers in a specific department.
An effective cyber attack results in a series of losses and threats to the company: lost revenue, regulatory fines, mass returns of purchased cars, issues with corporate image... Let's not forget that there can also be a serious threat to the safety of drivers on the road. Regular cybersecurity training for all employees significantly reduces the risk of falling victim to phishing.
Beware of ransomware attacks
The percentage of medium and large companies worldwide affected by ransomware attacks increased from 37% in 2020 to 66% in 2021. The average ransom fee is also rising rapidly. The automotive industry is not exempt from such threats. A notable case was Honda, which, in 2017, temporarily shut down its manufacturing plants after falling victim to ransomware named WannaCry.
To avoid suddenly losing documents and other files essential for ensuring the continuity of your business, regularly back up your data. You can do this in the cloud or on physical media – just remember not to store everything in one place. Additionally, use anti-ransomware software. As mentioned earlier, train your employees so they know how to respond effectively in the event of such a threat.
Provide regular updates
Modern cars commonly use operating systems such as Linux, QNC, Android, and Windows. Automotive software, like any other, should be regularly updated. Ensure that users can do this smoothly and without major issues in their vehicles. An automatic update option will come in handy.
Cybercriminal methods are constantly evolving, so it's essential to keep up with them by improving previously established protection methods. The more outdated the software, the more vulnerabilities it contains, providing an entry point for hackers. Therefore, it's important to alert users not to ignore prompts for necessary updates.
Focus on Apps
Modern cars are loaded with mobile applications that serve various functions, from unlocking vehicle doors and opening the trunk to autonomous parking or summoning the car. Each application collects, stores, and transmits some confidential information. Therefore, it becomes crucial to adequately secure customer data to avoid losing their trust.
Prioritize the development of applications, addressing cybersecurity issues at the same time. Maintaining high-level application security is not easy or cheap but is necessary to create a better shield against hackers.
Reward bug detection
Even the best team in the company may overlook a detail in vehicle cybersecurity. Therefore, an noteworthy idea is to encourage users to detect and report bugs, gaps, and weaknesses in security – in exchange for a financial reward.
While this involves allocating a significant budget for rewards, it can help limit costs associated with, for example, recalling a faulty car. And it truly works. Uber had nearly 1400 software vulnerabilities in their vehicles, which users themselves detected (there were 1345 reports). The company paid them around 2.3 million dollars, but this enabled them to know where to improve security measures.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
The automotive industry possesses a wealth of data that is a tempting target for cybercriminals, requiring special protection. This pertains to records from conducted tests, data from mathematical models, software examining prototypes, and various source codes. A mere username and password are insufficient to secure such valuable information.
Therefore, deploy additional protection for operating systems in the form of multi-factor authentication. An additional SMS, token, or code creates an additional layer of defense that a hacker must overcome. Remember to choose a proven solution certified by an external entity.
Be cautious of the user
Be aware that even if you put in every effort and release a flawless product, at the final stage, the so-called unaware user, the driver of the vehicle, emerges. They often pose a serious threat to cybersecurity, for example, by casually connecting an unprotected smartphone to the vehicle.
Therefore, place enormous emphasis on prevention and education. Cultivating user awareness and sensibly sensitizing them to issues related to vehicle cybersecurity in the network will significantly facilitate your work, thus making it more challenging for hackers.
Until next time!