On Keeping Automotive Telematics Safe from Hackers

Germany-based Rohde & Schwarz Cybersecurity is set to provide automotive telematics security solutions as early as this year, says Marcel Krumbholz, head of presales. And with 62 percent of U.S. consumers doubtful, they will see the world with fully autonomous cars, companies specifically addressing the security needs of the connected car market couldn’t emerge at a better time.

The connected car market is seen as one of the next big growth opportunities for satellite companies. While the role satellite will play in this particular market is still open to question, with cars needing to be fully connected at all times to receive software updates, for example, the market, in theory, offers a great opportunity for satellite players to be part of the communications ecosystem servicing these vehicles. Intelsat and Thuraya are two satellite companies in particular that have spoken up as this being a market to watch, and Kymeta has already made headlines for its tests with Toyota.

A growing number of automotive companies use telematics platforms to stay in contact with all of their cars outside in the world, allowing them to implement remote features like “installing updates and receiving messages about the car itself,” Krumbholz said. These platforms also track sensor data such as movement behaviour and fuel consumption, information that can then be monetized in a variety of forms, ranging from Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) to fleet management, to Over-the-Air (OTA) customer services.

The opportunity for ROI is compelling for car vendors, of course, but Krumbholz pointed out that consumers also stand to benefit from more advanced telematics platforms. “For example, Volvo is testing network here in Germany. If a customer comes to the garage because they would like to repair something, the Volvo will directly connect to the Wi-Fi of the garage and they can read about errors and mistakes from this car,” he said. In other words, drivers and mechanics in the future won’t need to scratch their heads diagnosing a tricky mechanical issue; the car itself can tell you what part needs to be replaced.

Mobile operators such as Verizon are the real first-movers in this space, looking to tap new revenue potential by creating telematics platforms for automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). But because these platforms lack detailed security specifications and a standardised framework across the industry, they have become an attractive target for cybercriminals. Operators are thus forced to turn to expensive, personalised security solutions to protect data and ward off cyber attacks, and these are the customers Rohde & Schwarz hopes to serve.

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