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Your Car: A Computer With Wheels? Auto Cybersecurity in The Future.

March 3rd, 2017
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A Digital Automotive Revolution

Have you noticed a surprising number of high tech “smart” gadgets in your car lately? Today, a mini-revolution continues within the automotive industry. Auto trade shows become platforms for displaying the overlap between ingenious vehicle engineering and innovations in computer information technology.

For example, self-driving car prototypes and the impressive displays of automated front and rear sensing capabilities in the latest commercial makes and models share one thing in common. Both demonstrate design teams in the global auto industry have recognized the strong ties between the fields of auto mechanics and IT. The auto mechanics of tomorrow will need to understand computer technology.

More Technology Partnerships

For example, collaborative projects occur frequently between leading automakers and Silicon Valley these days. Companies work towards developing autonomous robot-like vehicles. And auto manufacturers have begun adding new high tech infotainment options to their brands on a regular basis in order to remain competitive. Many consumers now check the availability of USB ports and touch display screens in auto cabins with as much interest as they show evaluating engine and transmission capabilities. The trend towards computerized “smart cars” does not appear likely to disappear anytime soon!

Last October two leading Japanese automakers, Toyota Motor Corporation and Suzuki Motor Corporation, announced a collaborative effort to work on improving “mobility” with the assistance of key safety and environmental developments. Media reports construed the announcement as an indication the partnership might apply some high tech systems to compact hybrid vehicles. As new technology grows more widespread, prices for important innovations often fall. In the near future, the public may witness the arrival of highly intelligent cars which communicate with one another on the road, correct obvious driver mistakes, function as rolling 24/7 mobile communications centers and even require anti-virus protection. Will your car become a computer with wheels?

Auto Cybersecurity Issues

One marker for the importance of computer technology to the automotive industry relates to the rise of new specialized fields. For example, before the arrival of mass-produced automobiles shortly after the turn of the last century, a limited marketplace existed for rubber tires. The stunning spread of automotive technology created a huge marketplace for some popular auto-related products, from vulcanized tires to mechanized car washes.

Today, one of the cutting-edge industries on the auto horizon relates to auto cybersecurity. As more vehicles become more intelligent (i.e. increasingly computerized) and sophisticated infotainment and navigation systems which rely on IT gain wide consumer acceptance, the need grows for auto engineers to pay close attention to auto cybersecurity issues. Several companies have already begun considering this concern. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently noted his nation has welcomed hundreds of startups based around autonomous car technology. Some of these firms address issues relating to auto cybersecurity.

Public Awareness

The American public has already demonstrated an interest in these issues. For instance, during an online survey conducted in January, the results indicated older drivers and women as demographic groups both worried about hackers assuming control of self-driving vehicles or damaging the underlying transportation infrastructure.

Yet an executive with the Consumer Federation of America recently cautioned auto cybersecurity extends more broadly than dramatic scenarios involving criminal activity. A more pervasive, and probably more imminent, threat relates to companies conducting unauthorized surveillance. At the recent CES 2017 trade show, visitors learned insurance companies can now call upon connected car technology to obtain “raw data” about driving behavior. Issues such as driving patterns, braking speeds and auto acceleration may eventually impact insurance premium rates.

The Privacy Implication of Increasing Auto Computerization

Will data re-sale companies begin collecting information reported by computerized vehicles in real time to learn about individual grocery shopping habits, lifestyle choices or banking practices? Admittedly, this idea strikes most people as far-fetched. Yet today impressive database capabilities allow private intelligence firms to gather extensive information from online visitors to compile detailed (and sometimes inaccurate) marketing profiles. Some consumers still do not realize numerous companies actively search and analyze their social media postings to predict their buying preference, for instance. Personal data collection has become a big business in the Information Age.

Privacy rights issues may soon extend beyond the Internet directly into the cabin of a family’s computerized vehicle. Since most drivers possess little personal control over the advanced technology automakers insert into their vehicles, it may become important in the future to ask your auto dealership for brand specifications or policies relating to marketing tracking activities. Does you automaker protect your auto cybersecurity?

Contact Us

When your vehicle requires an inspection, routine maintenance or repairs, you can rely on the skilled automotive services of North Ridge Station in North Raleigh, NC. Call us at 919-876-2943 today for assistance!

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