Securely networked

Automation and networking make transportation safer. They require data – and data must be protected.

Cars are continually gaining new capabilities: using innovative driver assistance systems, they can recognize hazards and automatically brake in critical situations. By exchanging information with other cars or transportation infrastructure, Car-to-X communication (C2X) will enable vehicles to detect hazards before they become threats.

This progressive automation and networking will make transportation much safer: up to 6.5 billion euros per year in economic costs resulting from road traffic accidents could be saved simply with the widespread implementation of C2X.

These technological upheavals in the automotive industry are changing the nature of automobiles. They are becoming more and more like computers on wheels. On average, about 100 million lines of programming code already go into a modern car. The fact that these cars have more and more capabilities and functions also means that they are collecting and processing more data. Experts assume that automated vehicles will produce 300 gigabytes of data in a single hour.

Protection against misuse and tampering

A part of this is the technical data concerning the system, which primarily serves to identify and resolve malfunctions. This is generally only saved for a short time. Nowadays, a car contains an average of about 80 control units, which collect information through sensors. With comprehensive networking, the data no longer stays in the car in many cases, but can be transmitted via interfaces such as Wi-Fi, SIM or USB.

Digitalization of automobiles is a challenge for the automotive industry: it must ensure that data, which is becoming more and more multifaceted and mobile, is protected against abuse and manipulation. Moreover, the interfaces that communicate with their surroundings or internet services via the vehicles must be adequately protected against external attacks.

Data privacy and transparency

The German automotive industry has made IT security an integral part of the development process. Stress tests with independent experts and the use of encrypted connections for web-based services are part of this. In addition, driving- and safety-related functions are, as a rule, separated from other areas such as infotainment systems, and protected by firewalls to prevent gateways for hackers.

It is equally important that the resulting data is handled responsibly. The member companies of the VDA therefore developed common data protection principles for networked vehicles in 2014.

These include transparency, self-determination and data security. This way, customers should always be able to know which data is collected in their vehicle and why. Furthermore, they should be able to delete stored data and deactivate services at any time. Data will only be transmitted if legal permission or consent is given.

With these principles, the German automotive industry has laid the foundations for a secure mobility of tomorrow – on the road and in the networked vehicle.