Looking Ahead: Where Automotive Innovation Meets Cybersecurity in 2017

03 October 2016 Dashboard Insights Blog
Authors: Michael R. Overly

The automotive industry has long been exempt from the cyber attacks that have affected so many companies operating in the financial services, healthcare and retail spaces. However, that is changing quickly due to the copious amount of historical data being collected by modern vehicles and the new autonomous features created by manufacturers.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the connected cars movement, unlike other instances where exploitable personal information exists, increases the potential threat of terrorist activity. In addition to the usual motivations—financial gain and operational disruption—sophisticated hackers are able to use vehicles as instruments of harm and destruction.

It’s a scary scenario that has come to fruition faster than most believed was possible from a technology standpoint—predictions made by automotive executives have been mixed over the years. Fast forward to this summer where we already have self-driving ride sharing cars on the road, and other new models will soon communicate directly with each other and exchange information with toll booths, gas pumps and fast food restaurants.

This expedited timeline has created vehicles with advanced capabilities but few protections. So what actions should automotive manufacturers and suppliers take to ensure their systems are guarded against hackers? Here are a few things to consider as the industry moves at an accelerated pace:

  • Manage risk within the supply chain. Modern vehicles are comprised of hundreds of thousands of computer codes and other components developed by vendors, which can leave them vulnerable during the assembly process. Whether there is purposeful or inadvertent corruption within the supply chain, a more rigorous testing and contract management process will help mitigate risk.
  • Change must occur from within the industry. Eventually there will be interaction and cooperation between regulators and industry participants, but as long as there is tension among governing bodies, automotive companies must address the issue of vehicle security with uniformity. The industry is accustomed to reacting to market shifts and consumer preferences, and we are already starting to see overarching, proactive measures be proposed.
  • Build security into your sales and marketing strategy. The most astute automotive companies understand that data privacy and cybersecurity will become a strong selling point for car buyers. The key will be communicating such protective features in an easy to understand way and consistently across manufacturers and retailers. Security ratings must be uniform or they will be useless, and they must not infringe upon the driver experience.

Looking ahead to 2017, it will be interesting to see how things unfold in Washington and how connectivity is prioritized on lawmakers’ agendas. If the last few months has showed us anything, it’s that the automotive industry’s growth trajectory won’t leave much time for reflection.

This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.

Related Services