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Smartphone Entry Security Challenge for the Auto Industry

Florida Business Innovation - Florida Auto Insurance

A hot topic within the auto industry today centers around connected vehicles. A connected vehicle is wired with cutting-edge technology and “connected” to the internet.  Auto manufacturers now work closely with major tech companies, like Microsoft, to develop connected cars. For example, connected automobiles use digital, smartphone-based entry systems instead of physical keys or remote keyless fobs. While this new technology is convenient and exciting, it raises  serious security challenges.

The auto industry needs to ensure that security measures are in place that will protect owners from theft. This not only requires cyber security protections, but also means that customers need to be educated on why they should trust the new technologies that are being built into vehicles these days. Here are three key security challenges the auto industry is facing, and solutions that could be implemented to address these issues.

  1. Customer concerns about digital security

Customers need to be educated on what they can do to maximize new vehicle security. There are several strategies that can be implemented.

  • Virtual car keys should be stored on the customer’s smartphone; customers should treat this information with the same level of security they treat their online banking information.
  • Strong authentication and prior registration are both necessary and will help contribute towards better security.
  • Customers should avoid storing information in mobile apps (which are still a cause for concern) and should instead store their virtual key within their smartphone’s internal NFC secure element.
  • The most robust form of authentication is biometrics, which can be used to link the user’s identity with their phone and virtual car keys.
  1. Customer concerns about auto theft

Criminals are using high-tech equipment to steal and reprogram cars. They are able to manipulate wireless signals to start the vehicle. Unfortunately, this type of theft is becoming more common. Tech-savvy car thieves are able to trick the car system into thinking the owner is nearby with the key using radio frequencies used by car keys. Customers need to be informed to follow basic safety recommendations, such as:

  • Parking in a secure, well-lit area
  • Using a steering wheel lock
  • Using an auto immobilizer (an electronic security device)
  • Making sure their auto is locked (it’s easy to think you’ve locked your door when in actuality it didn’t lock)
  1. Guard against digital hacking

Police have warned that cars with keyless entry systems are vulnerable if hackers are able to crack the codes. Even though auto manufacturers are constantly updating codes and security systems, at the same time hackers are working diligently to find ways to circumvent security systems. Another potential challenge involves over-the-air (OTA) software updates. Currently, 4.6 million vehicles receive OTA updates, and that number is expected to rise to 43 million by 2022. This substantially heightens the challenge of cyber security. The auto industry needs to continue to invest in cyber security engineering to reduce the threat of online hacking.

The new technology of connected cars is exciting, but it is not without challenges. The auto industry needs to address cyber security issues and other issues related to connected vehicles head-on in order to ensure customers are able to trust that they will be protected.

Lanier Upshaw is here to help you reduce your personal and business risk through innovative solutions. Contact Lanier Upshaw here to learn more about how you can prepare for a future filled with new technologies like connected cars.