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View from India: Vehicle security is still evolving

The Government of India is migrating services to the cloud to fulfil its Digital India vision. Banks are also relying on cloud-based infrastructure, as are both small and big enterprises, but the automotive industry has its own specific requirements.

Cloud has percolated into almost every vertical. This is understandable, as it offers transparency and mitigates risk management. It is open and scalable. “Every company has begun to have its own set of cloud specifics and this extends to in-house policies and directives. This internal regulation is now a mandate,” said Praveen Kumar Motupalli, regional information security officer, Airbus India, speaking at the CSA Bangalore Summit 2019.

Cloud has an important role to play in the company’s growth. Hence, cloud teams can no longer work in silos. They should be aligned with the legal heads of the companies. Together, they should co-ordinate to determine what kind of data needs to move to the cloud. Client requirements are met in accordance with the company’s in-house policies.

Today, it is essential to secure data on the cloud. “Cyber security as a service has been around since 2011. Given its scalable nature, verticals are slowly catching up with it. The banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector is beginning to lap it up,” highlighted Malini Rao, VP information security and GRC for a large financial services business.

Many companies in the BFSI sector have opted for a hybrid model, where data is partly stored on cloud and partly in data centres. Cloud offers flexibility and gives scope for shared responsibility.  

When we look at the auto industry, cloud has a unique role to play. That’s because vehicles have a distinct ecosystem. “As vehicle manufacturing is becoming more sophisticated and automated, it brings in new challenges. For instance, the onternet of things (IoT) helps integrate around 15,000 components into the vehicle in order to raise the comfort level for passengers,” explained Dr Lopa Mudra Basu, global head of cyber security risk, governance and compliance, Nissan Motor Corporation. This includes internal temperature, seat recline and automatic door operations. Cyber security is required as so many parts are being connected. These are connected cars, she said, and not to be mistaken for autonomous vehicles.

The connected car landscape is in sync with the individual’s requirements within the car. It connects with the phone, which in turn connects with the cell tower. Wi-Fi connectivity is also part of the frame. “In this chain, infotainment is one of the weakest systems. That’s because many components come from third parties. This means that users have access to connectivity within the vehicle,” Basu pointed out.

Vehicle-specific risk can be understood as car theft and cracking the vehicle location, which is an open gateway for physical crime. “Some of the key vulnerabilities that need to be taken care of are the hardcode or non-existing Bluetooth pin and internet-enabled admin interface,” felt Basu.  

Connected cars require a support ecosystem, which is secure. Connectivity and security happen through the mobile, which needs a strong password. Or else, any Bluetooth can be used to glean connected information. It’s important to exercise caution while plugging personal devices into connected cars.

In the case of autonomous vehicles, they have all the components of connected cars. In addition to that, there’s also telematics as many autonomous vehicles are connected with the individual’s home. All this is stored on the cloud, which needs to be configured, monitored and secured.

Whether it is connected cars or autonomous vehicles, the manufacturers are not IT professionals. This is where cloud fits in as a service.

Cloud enables the manufacturer to arrive at a security solution. Vehicle security covers both the hardware as well as the software part of it. The security aspect should safeguard the supply chain and authenticate the distribution channel.

Vehicle security continues to evolve as India gears up for connected cars and electric vehicles.

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