How to Make Connected Car Technology More Reliable and Safer

The connected car market is blowing up (with or without the help of Elon Musk) and its’s expected to be worth around $155 billion by 2022 (and there will be 220 million connected cars on the road by 2020).

IoT in vehicles will provide some of the following tools to the end user/driver:

Further, about 75% of the estimated 92 million automobiles that will be shipped around the world will have built in access to the internet. It makes sense as it’s now one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, within the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.

A growing connected car market will offer several opportunities to profit from providing services. But then again it can be a little tricky as although connected car owners are interested in connected services (like safety features), they have been quite reluctant to turn them on.

The primary reason for this apprehension is security. As consumers are aware and afraid of the consequences of hacking, they tend to try and avoid IoT features altogether. But are these fears baseless?

In fact, they are not as it has already happened and I wrote about it last year when we focused on ensuring the reliability and security of a connected vehicle. Further, with hacking dominating the recent U.S. presidential elections, it really doesn’t help connected car makers who are trying to reassure their customers.

So how far have we come in the last year?

In time, consumers may figure out that security isn’t just a problem for connected cars, rather it’s a serious concern that surrounds the IoT industry as a whole. This is attributed to the fact that IoT enables devices to share a massive amount of data between them. So any small vulnerability can have enormous consequences.

Networks will evolve in the near future to accommodate the millions of connected devices that will be online in the near future (including connected vehicles). So it will help if connected car manufacturers take steps to enable appropriate levels of secure connectivity during the product life cycle.

Security Ensures Reliability and Safety

Although variables like adoption rates and enhancing profits are important, enabling and ensuring security has to be a priority for automakers. This has to start right from the planning stages to the moment the buyer drives the vehicle out of the dealership.

So how can manufacturers do this efficiently?

A key to maintaining security can come down to facilitating appropriate levels of connectivity at the right time when it’s needed. It’s also vital to figure out what the automobile should be allowed to do when it’s connected during the life cycle of the vehicle.

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Automating this function can also ensure that end-to-end security is maintained during connectivity. This will also mean that you don’t have to manually monitor connectivity which can be very difficult to achieve.

What Steps Should Connected Car Manufacturers Take to Ensure Reliability and Safety?

Embed the Right Technologies During Vehicle Design

When the automobile is in the design stage, it provides a great opportunity to plan what technologies can be designed right into the vehicle. At this juncture, it’s also a good idea to figure out what types of services they want to offer throughout the life of the car (even if it’s not possible to implement at moment).

It will also help to choose a suitable management platform and connectivity partner at this stage to make sure that the design features are integrated correctly. Like most things in life, planning ahead can help you achieve your goals.

Make Security and Connectivity Central to the Manufacturing, Testing, and Shipping

Auto manufacturers are already equipped with IoT tools to automate and enhance operations, maximize uptime, and mitigate risk. As a result, keeping these machines secure is also vital to enhance efficiency and ensure safety.

The manufacturing plant will already have sensors embedded for real-time analytics. So any security or safety concerns can be addressed in real-time by authorized personnel. Further, testing should also be conducted to ensure that connected services are working as intended before the manufacturing cycle ends.

When the vehicles are in containers on their way to multiple destinations, manufacturers should also make sure that they disable connected services while continuing to track the vehicle’s journey. This period is also important as hackers can intercept the vehicles and install backdoors to access sensitive date during the life cycle of the automobile.

Although manufacturers like to physically protect the SIM card, it is better to protect it through automation rules. Connectivity can be turned back on once the vehicle is on the dealership floor to be demoed by sales staff (again security will be important when the vehicle is on display).

Once it’s sold and on the road, the manufacturers’ responsibilities will continue. For now, manufacturers need to focus on ensuring regular updates and patches to maintain security, but they have to also be aware of new opportunities that have opened up in the market in the form of third-party services.  They have to take steps to build secure infrastructure to ensure that third-party services don’t create new vulnerabilities.

The connected car industry is still in its infancy, so we can expect vulnerabilities and reliability issues to pop up as the industry matures. But if the right protocols are in place from the beginning, they will be well equipped to respond to threats rapidly and efficiently.

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Andrew is our IT storyteller and copywriter. His current undertaking is big data analytics and CSS as well as digital design and branding. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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