According to Upstream Security, the number of reported automotive cyber attacks almost doubled between 2018 and 2019. These vulnerabilities risk the well-being of drivers and their passengers as well as costs, such as fleet recalls, and damage to corporate reputations. In fact, International Engineering News has uncovered that a single cyber hack can cost manufacturers up to $1 billion, notwithstanding the damage in reputation and loss in trust.

The threat was demonstrated by the SouthWest Research Institute (SwRI), when a team of engineers successfully simulated a malicious attack as part of their research. The team reverse-engineered circuits on an Electric Vehicle (EV) and its charger, using relatively inexpensive hardware and software. SwRI’s team “effectively tricked the test vehicle into thinking it was fully charged and also blocked it from taking a full charge.” 

The potential for cybersecurity breaches is exacerbated by COVID-19. The global pandemic has pushed individuals to work from home, which has generated a massive increase in the need for connected IoT devices. While embedding IoT devices to platforms such as connected cars might add convenience, it also creates fresh opportunities for hackers.

While IoT system usage has arguably already gone mainstream, there has been far less attention to cyber security of such systems. 

The relative ease with which SwRI hacked EV connection with its charging system, and spike in demand for IoT systems due to Covid-19 make the case that cybersecurity vulnerabilities warrant closer monitoring. 

The global automotive market is being strongly driven by connectivity of vehicles. Along with the expansion of today’s IoT features, connected cars suffer from vulnerabilities from breaches. To name a few, sensor technology that enables devices to create and communicate data can be hacked while the manufacturers may not be able to determine. Hackers could extract sensitive data or gain access through credentials, which would leave the sensors vulnerable. Such growth is strongly boosting the need for automotive cybersecurity. 

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