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More Connected Cars + Increased Cyber Threats = Closer Supply Chain Relationships

More Connected Cars + Increased Cyber Threats = Closer Supply Chain Relationships

The race to bring more cars into the connected world is heightening concerns about security risks and vulnerability in the wake of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

Although everyone knows collaboration is necessary, they are gaps between how the automotive supply chain is balancing go-to-market plans with adequate protection against digital threats. On a broad market scale, all new cars will be connected, Internet-enabled by 2020, making them moving data centers on wheels and compelling targets for hackers.

cyber-crime

“As cars and information systems get heavily integrated, hackers will have more incentive to… hack,” wrote Olivia Price-Walker and Niranjan Thiyagarajan, principal consultants at Frost & Sullivan, in a February analysis piece published in Automotive World.

The connected car trend brings with it inherent issues, namely how companies protect consumer and corporate data while also pushing for deep levels of cloud-based interconnectivity across the supply chain and with end-users.

“While strong collaboration with the supplier base is critical to success, it has also weakened the OEM defense lines to external attacks. This is further exacerbated by the move to the cloud as most OEM executives are concerned by the perceived loss of data control once it is deployed in the Cloud” the London-based consultants wrote. As is commonly known, companies are more widely uplinking local suppliers and global partners into a centralized B2B hub to streamline communication and work flow, increase operational efficiency and reduce lag time.

The issue is complicated by end-consumers perceptions, the Frost & Sullivan authors noted. “In 2020, more than 70% of consumers are likely to consider security a key parameter when purchasing a car,” they said. “Imagine a future in which a consumer is swayed between purchases over whether or not a firewall is provided as standard in a connected car?”

News headlines bring this to people’s attention as well. Wired, for instance, reported in February that a study by a Russian security firm found that several Android car-related apps, downloaded hundreds of thousands times, lacked basic software security measures.

And, the government is getting involved, too. A bipartisan bill has been proposed to study best practices that will help lessen connected car cyber threats; it recommends that government, academic and industry officials identify and come up with standards to protect connected vehicles, Ars Technical reported. The bill, introduced in the House of Representatives in January, can be found here.

As security questions come more to the forefront, it’s likely that the high-tech, auto and electronics supply chain will be held accountable if—and when—hackers wreck chaos. It seems to follow then that deeper supply chain collaboration will be warranted as OEMs, component makers and software providers run to deliver on connectivity promises with new models and self-driving auto designs while simultaneously trying to protect their assets, consumers and roadways.

Obviously, companies are doing this to some extent. Hyundai Motor Co and Cisco, for example, announced a deal in spring of 2016, initially focusing on optimizing the transmission and reception of data within the vehicle. Hyundai, like other car makers, is also exploring things like autonomous driving, smart traffic mobility and smart remote maintenance and servicing, all of which they say will benefit from innovations in car technology and security. 

There are many other examples. Consider this one from Intel: “In an industry long known for proprietary engineering, we are seeing many companies join forces in the race to solutions. Our agreement with BMW and Mobileye to put approximately 40 autonomous test cars on the road by the end of 2017 is a great example of how collaboration accelerates results. Joint ownership of HERE between Audi, Daimler, BMW and now Intel will further illustrate how the sharing of knowledge will move us forward,” wrote Kathy Winter, Intel’s vice president and general manager of the Automated Driving Division, in a February blog post.

But as Shaun Kirby, Cisco’s director of automated and connected car, pointed out in a January VentureBeat article, securing the connected car is something that needs attention at each step of the vehicle’s life cycle, from the design stage through manufacturing, testing, shipping, demoing on the sales floor and post-sale. 

Such a high level of interoperability, security and reliability demands a depth of supply chain collaboration that needs to evolve beyond where its stand today. How do you think it will evolve from here? Who will be the leading stakeholders? And how does the conversation move from the “wow” factor that car connectivity inspires to the practical, day-to-day reality of keeping millions of people safe every day?