Why Communications Matter in Automotive Security

Hello Fine Readers – here is a blog I “wrote” this summer and forgot to post.  Yes, you can tell they had a professional writer clean up my profanity, I mean my grammar.


Security is never “one and done.” It is an ongoing process, requiring continual monitoring and updating. Aeris, as a full-stack telematics service provider, knows this. We also know that while we are experts in some aspects of security, we are not experts in all aspects of security. We have the unique perspective of understanding wireless and application security and how they are married with in-vehicle hardware security. This depth of knowledge confirms for us that there are so many other unique systems and aspects of automotive security that others likely understand at a deeper level.

So, when someone asks me, “Why did you become involved in the Automotive Security Review Board?” my immediate response is, “because automotive security cannot be achieved alone, by one single entity or corporation.” Because, if we don’t work together and get this right from the start, the full potential of a connected vehicle would be lost. And, in my opinion, that would be a real shame.

As VP of Automotive Products and Strategy for Aeris, I can proudly say our company is thrilled to be a member of this emerging research consortium. We are excited by the prospect of helping to shape the ASRB as it engages the best minds in the industry, each bringing a unique perspective to the table; not just to solve existing problems, but to collectively look to the future of automotive security.

The work we have done at Aeris has demonstrated that the very act of bringing connectivity into automobiles makes them vulnerable to attack; however, this connectivity can also be used as a method for securing vehicles. It is the critical component that will allow us to meet the ongoing and ever-changing security challenges as they emerge. Aeris is building a test lab that our partners can use to test security theories without having to deploy them out in the wild, so to speak. This, along with our expertise in the wireless space, will help to answer some of the more difficult questions facing the ASRB and really, anyone dedicated to this effort.

But what does improving automotive security really mean? What are the real benefits? I’ve been in telematics for eighteen years and I’ve seen the potential of what a truly connected vehicle can do. Imagine a safer, more affordable, better-utilized vehicle. As a simple example, consider your car’s basic maintenance push notifications. Your car knows its basic condition and can tell you it needs an oil change. You no longer have to remember to check your mileage, instead your telematics system notifies you in real time. Now consider this possibility: Instead of the usual service light appearing, your car would tell you that you’re scheduled with your dealership for an oil change at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, and then drives itself to the dealer.

This future will be possible with connectivity (and a lot of other engineering, obviously!). By having your vehicle connected it could be smart enough to recognize a need (in this case, a simple oil change) and then take the initiative to ensure that the necessary maintenance is scheduled and completed. We know many OEMs are already connecting vehicles, sending maintenance reminders, and working to connect all the networks to bring this reality forward.  This is a baby step in the world of connected vehicles, but it is a crucial one. Even at this level, the door for potential threats is opened, and without the proper security measures in place, progress would stop in its tracks. And so much for your vehicle taking itself to get serviced!

If connectivity challenges prevent us from doing something simple but meaningful, they will stop us from achieving truly autonomous vehicles. They will never materialize. And right now, this moment, with the establishment of the ASRB, is that inflection point where all of these things are converging. The ASRB is where representatives from the system of systems that shape our automotive industry are coming together.

I’m passionate about what this would mean for automakers, individual owners, and society at large, and I’m seriously committed to helping bring this future to fruition. And Aeris is excited to be at the forefront of where all of these big thinkers are focused on tomorrow’s automotive security.

Posted June 15, 2016