Connected Drive

Connected vehicles – how safe is the technology?

Digitization is spreading through all industries. This is also reflected in the automotive industry. Digital technologies are enabling vehicles to network with each other and exchange information with drivers and traffic management systems on a permanent basis. But how secure is the technology?

The comfort is enormously increased by the digitalization of the vehicles. Starting with the easier search for a parking space, over optimal route navigation, up to WLAN in the vehicle. But also the protection provided by the vehicle is increased. This includes driver assistance systems that, for example, control the distance or keep in lane. As a result, accidents are avoided.

The trend towards networked vehicles continues

The data and information service IHS estimates that by 2023 there will be an increase of 202.08% in sales of networked vehicles compared to 2015. This means that there would then be 72.5 million units on the market. As a result, traffic jams and accidents can be avoided. In addition, however, the question of data protection and security also arises again, especially here.

Data security in connected cars

What are such vehicles connected with? Basically with other vehicles, apartments, offices, stores and Smart-City-services. However, the range also extends much further into personal life. This includes information on whereabouts, e-mail, Google searches and social media activities.

What has already happened through hacker attacks

This information is of the highest interest to cyber criminals. For this reason, it is not surprising that cases have already been reported where hackers have taken control of microphones or the navigation system remotely.


There is also one case where the key code could be identified, thus enabling car theft.


Two years ago, developers also uncovered a bug at a well-known car manufacturer. This allowed access to the back-end system. As a result, vehicles could be located, passwords changed, or the engine started or stopped.

Source: iStock / IGphotography
Digital technologies create new risks. Source: iStock / IGphotography

How car manufacturers can protect themselves against cybercrime

There are basically three major areas in which car manufacturers can actively intervene to increase safety for the end customer.


  • Understanding attacks and risks. This includes, for example, classifying them into categories so that appropriate measures can be initiated.
  • Creation and implementation of an end-to-end security solution. Vehicles today have interfaces to clouds, networks or different vehicle levels. Therefore, it is of highest relevance to eliminate all potential security risks at existing contact points.
  • Cooperation with partners. The topic of cyber security is so comprehensive that cooperation with experts is indispensable. In addition, as mentioned at the beginning, networking is becoming increasingly widespread, which is why the dependency between vehicle and network connection is becoming more and more relevant. This also requires reliable partnerships, such as those with telecommunications providers or government agencies.

New cyber security framework through own security standard

The International Organization for Standardization, ISO, and the Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE, are currently developing a new safety standard for networked vehicles. This is entitled ISO/SAE 21434 “Road vehicles – Cybersecurity engineering”. It is expected to come into force as early as the end of November 2020. With the help of a uniform technical jargon on the subject of cybersecurity, all requirements are to be defined. These cover the entire value chain of electronic and electrical systems.



Ultimately, it can be concluded that there are still a number of security gaps that lead to repeated negative incidents. For this reason, work is currently underway to remedy these and create a basis for future networking and increased security.

Source Cover Image: iStock / metamorworks