7 Automotive Cybersecurity Best Practices
Research has found that in 2021 automotive-related cybersecurity vulnerabilities surged by 321% over 2020 levels...
Nov 21, 2023
Research has found that in 2021 automotive-related cybersecurity vulnerabilities surged by 321% over 2020 levels. As vehicles become increasingly intelligent and interconnected, the merger of the automotive and technology industries exposes new vulnerabilities.
This ISMS Connect guide provides professionals with the knowledge and tools to navigate the complex automotive cybersecurity landscape, mitigating threats, meeting regulatory standards, and ensuring safer roads while protecting organizational reputation and consumer trust.
Read on for more on automotive cybersecurity best practices.
What Is Automotive Cybersecurity?
Automotive cybersecurity is the process of ensuring the safety and integrity of the software and communication systems in a vehicle. It involves preventing unauthorized access, manipulation, or disruption of the vehicle's functions, as well as the data exchange between the vehicle, smart devices, and the cloud.
According to Argus, a global leader in automotive cybersecurity, it provides in-vehicle and cloud-based cybersecurity technologies for automakers and suppliers, to ensure that vehicle components, networks, and fleets are secured and compliant throughout their life cycle.
Why Is Automotive Cybersecurity Important?
Safety and Security of Passengers
Automotive cybersecurity is crucial for protecting the safety and security of drivers, passengers, vehicles, and other assets. As vehicles become more connected and autonomous, they also become more vulnerable to cyber threats. Cybersecurity helps to protect the car and the driver from attacks and potential manipulation.
With software and apps controlling everything in the car, from our location and trip details to brake systems, the car is more vulnerable to outside attacks.
Vehicle cybersecurity means implementing proven defenses to keep anyone from stealing your data from the car (like access to GPS location info, contacts, access to the microphone inside the car, and video cameras).
Compliance With Regulations
To keep up with the increasing complexity of modern automobiles, and ensure the safety of the user, the automotive industry has a number of different regulations that must be followed, including:
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7 Automotive Cybersecurity Best Practices
1. Map Out an Incident Response Plan
A well-crafted incident response plan is the first line of defense in the world of automotive cybersecurity. It’ll help you prepare for any eventuality and align your team on how to respond if a security incident arises.
What should your plan include? At minimum, you should define the roles and responsibilities of each team member in the event of a security incident. You’ll also want to outline specific steps that should be taken in the response process, like:
Notifying affected parties
Containing and mitigating the incident
Conducting a post-incident review
The more thorough you are, the more prepared you’ll be when an incident does happen.
2. Collaborate With Security Experts
Cybersecurity is a complex area that isn’t overly accessible for nontechnical professionals.
Collaborating with experts who can break down technical threats and vulnerabilities into language you understand will help ensure that your team is properly educated and well-equipped to make sound decisions.
For example, at ISMS Connect, we create resources with accessibility in mind. We know clients turn to us for straightforward, actionable advice and guidance on security best practices—and we deliver those insights in easy-to-understand formats.
3. Have Training and Awareness Programs
Training and awareness programs are crucial for ensuring that all employees understand the importance of cybersecurity and are equipped to play their part in maintaining it. A well-informed team is your first line of defense. Here are some examples of cybersecurity training and awareness programs:
Video-based security awareness training
Seminars and webinars
Risk-based security training
Phishing and social engineering simulations
Cybersecurity awareness courses
Internal seminars and lunch-and-learns
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4. Continuously Detect, Monitor, and Analyze Threats
Constant vigilance is crucial.
Use advanced threat detection, monitoring, and analysis tools to identify and respond to potential threats promptly. Continuous detection, monitoring, and analysis of threats is a key aspect of automotive cybersecurity.
There are all kinds of tools that may be relevant here, including:
Automated scans for vulnerabilities and configuration issues
Intrusion detection systems (IDS)
Log management solutions to collect, store, and analyze log data
Network behavioral analysis (NBA) to detect abnormal behavior on the network
Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Auto-ISAC) has created guidelines for automotive cybersecurity, which include best practices for threat detection, monitoring, and analysis. These guidelines provide a living, function-based approach to managing vehicle cyber risk.
5. Ensure Up-to-date Cryptographic Algorithms
Stay ahead of cybercriminals by using the latest cryptographic algorithms to protect sensitive data and communications. Using up-to-date cryptographic algorithms is crucial for ensuring the security of communications between vehicles and other systems.
NVIDIA, for example, uses AI-powered data processors and chips to operate and protect self-driving cars. Their software and cloud-based technologies help autonomous vehicles securely learn and relay driving data.
Many leading car manufacturers, like Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Toyota, and Volkswagen, rely on NVIDIA's deep learning systems to enable and secure their self-driving vehicles.
6. Build a Framework for Governance
When developing a governance framework, consider defining and communicating the overall scope, mission, and vision. A strong governance framework ensures your organization's commitment to cybersecurity.
Key elements include:
Defining Scope: Clearly defining the mission, vision, and overall scope of your cybersecurity strategy.
Identifying Functions: Identifying key functions and roles in your organization.
Organizing Leadership: Determining how and where decision-making occurs.
Stakeholder Engagement: Strategies for engaging stakeholders across the board.
Policy and Process Development: Developing and maintaining robust policies and processes.
Performance Management: Defining relevant metrics to measure performance.
7. Implement Security Development Lifecycle (SDL)
Integrating security into the development lifecycle is essential.
The Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) is a process that developers use to build more secure software by addressing security compliance requirements during the development process. It involves the following steps:
Training: All employees, especially developers and engineers, should receive security awareness training appropriate to their role. This includes general security awareness training for new hires and annual refresher training for all employees.
Requirements: Define clear security and privacy requirements at the start of the project. These requirements should be based on factors like the type of data the product will handle, known threats, best practices, regulations and industry requirements, and lessons learned from previous incidents.
Design: Once the requirements have been defined, begin designing the automotive system. As part of this process, create threat models to help identify, categorize, and rate potential threats according to risk.
Implementation: Write the code that implements the design. During this phase, ensure that all security and privacy requirements are properly addressed.
Verification: Each phase of the SDL should contain mandatory checks and approvals to ensure all security and privacy requirements and best practices are properly addressed.
Release: Once the system has been thoroughly tested and verified, it can be released to customers.
Response: Conduct activities after the core phases to ensure that the system remains secure after deployment. This includes monitoring for new threats and vulnerabilities and responding appropriately when they are detected.
Maintenance: Continuously support the application after its deployment. This includes regularly updating the system to address new threats and vulnerabilities, as well as making improvements based on user feedback and changing business needs.
Remember that SDL is a continuous process, meaning that security and privacy requirements change throughout the product’s lifecycle to reflect changes in functionality and the threat landscape.
Automotive cybersecurity best practices are crucial. Organizations must swiftly respond to incidents, plan meticulously, collaborate, and continuously improve. Learning from educational resources and past incidents can help ensure the safety of automobiles and its users.
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