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Utimaco shines a light on automotive security this Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Utimaco, a leading global provider of IT security solutions, is placing a strategic focus on cybersecurity in the automotive industry, reporting on consumer trust levels in order to help build greater trust in the sector.

According to its recently-published whitepaper Circles of Trust: How the UK Public Perceives Digital Risk, 70% of the UK’s population is worried about the security of their data when using digital services. This is something that it is vital to bear in mind during Cybersecurity Awareness Month – an overwhelming majority of the users of digital services are worried about their safety.

Its survey showed that 43% of respondents were worried about the digital security of their vehicles. This is likely to be much lower than the level of concern about digital security in general because there have been so few cases of vehicle cybersecurity being breached. While any internet user will have gotten phishing emails or had their personal data leaked, the kind of digital attacks that could take place in vehicles are either invisible (breaching onboard systems to collect data) or the kind of dangerous events that would attract attention from law enforcement (hijacking a vehicle while it was in motion.)

There were 79 million cars produced in 2021 and an estimated 93 million will be produced in 2025, 21 million of which will be electric vehicles. Modern vehicles always have some kind of digital connectivity, and some have suites of dozens of digital devices that can connect wirelessly through satellite, SMS, Bluetooth, wireless broadband and other technologies. On the horizon are autonomous vehicles like self-driving cars and robo-taxis, and vehicles are already on the roads that have subscription-based on-demand features. Often the security and other systems in these vehicles are handled through ‘firmware over the air’ updates that can improve anything from the vehicle’s infotainment systems to the communication protocols and encryption algorithms that lie deep in the car’s software. All told, the modern car is a ‘smartphone on wheels’, with just as much need for digital security.

To create this security, car manufacturers, OEMs and cybersecurity companies like Utimaco have spent many years working on ways to secure vehicle systems against current threats and those that might be further decades away. Vehicles typically stay on the road for twelve years, some much longer, so they have to be able to adapt to new threats as they arise. Quantum computing is one such looming threat computers that can break security systems that would take conventional computers millions, perhaps trillions or years. This could enable current security in vehicles to be broken, but because of Utimaco’s work alongside automotive companies, vehicles are beginning to be quantum-agile – able to be upgraded to handle new threats as they arise.

“We are extremely proud to be able to show companies in the automotive industry hard data about how their customers feel about the connected technology that is increasingly common in even the most basic vehicles,” says Ansgar Steden, Chief Revenue Officer at Utimaco. “We see that they are enthusiastic, but they still have concerns, despite a lack of high-profile cases of vehicle cybersecurity being breached. This shows that manufacturers need to better communicate the safety credentials of their vehicles and to work with companies like Utimaco to make sure that this security is able to withstand current and future threats.”

Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which takes place each October, was created in collaboration between the U.S. government and industry to ensure that every American has the resources they need to feel safer online. Similarly, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) is partnering with the Commission and Member States in carrying out #CyberSecMonth. The EU’s annual campaign is dedicated to promoting cybersecurity among EU citizens and organizations and providing up-to-date online security information through awareness raising activities and sharing of good practices.

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