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Infographic: Securing Connected Cars

In my recent interview with Sam Shawki, the founder and chief executive officer of MagicCube, I wrote about getting a new Ram Truck and noted that it was a beast not just in size and towing power, but a beast of electronics and connectivity. According to Intertrust Technologies, the percentage of new cars shipped with Internet connectivity will rise from 13% in 2015 to 75% in 2020, and that in 2020, connected cars will account for 22% of all vehicles on the road. That number is sure to grow. More stats in the infographic below. 


Connected Cars

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In May, after nearly 10 years and a 147,000 miles, I sold my 2008 Mazda CX-9. It was a great car for me and my family. Our new car is a truck, the Ram 2500. It’s a beast, not just in size and towing power, but a beast of electronics and connectivity. Sure the 2008 Mazda had Bluetooth and a GPS, but cars today are so much more connected with onboard services like WiFi, custom car applications, and even consumer applications like Yelp! Mind you, this is a Ram Truck I’m talking about, not a Tesla or a Prius.

With connectivity increasing and self-driving cars on the fore, how do we keep improving on the convenience while keeping it secure. For that we turned to Sam Shawki, the founder and chief executive officer of MagicCube, a digital mobile security start-up located in Silicon Valley. Prior to his current role, Sam was head of Visa’s Global Remote Payments business unit, where he drove the company’s global initiatives in mobile and remote payments.  Before Visa, Sam served as Chief Innovation Officer of VimpelCom, the sixth largest mobile network operator in the world, with over 214 million customers in 18 countries.

We asked him about connected cars, mobile security, and what’s in store for the future.

When people talk about connected cars and especially self-driving cars, many worry about the safety around driving, without immediately thinking about the security behind all of the connections that are required for the connected car’s infrastructure to thrive. How does mobile security play a part?

Whether the smartphone is at the heart of what makes cars connected, or an embedded system created by automotive manufacturers like your car’s dashboard or even a digital car key takes over the identity hub, many of the car systems and subsystems are getting smart which means such systems are now attackable.  

What are some of the challenges car companies are facing today that may require different thinking?

The right technologies to protect these systems cannot come from legacy ideas like inserting a secure chip in each system or relying on pure encryption like white box of multi-party computation alone. It needs to be designed specifically for scale and with security specific to mobile and IoT deployments. This is the different thinking that the connected cars ecosystem has no choice but to embrace, and quickly.  

What can car companies and governments learn from other industries when it comes to connected cars?

Security breaches in any industry should be viewed as a clarion call to the automotive industry. There are lessons to be learned there. For example, look the recent eATM breach from the financial sector. This is believed to be related to technology that used legacy ideas that adhered to minimal security requirements. The difference between security breaches on ATMs and on self-driving cars of course is that a security breach on a car going 70 mph is truly a matter of life and death.

Who’s doing connected cars well?

It’s too early to tell. Many are on the right track, yet security remains a huge concern.  I’m excited to see who figures this out first and our team is working hard to make sure MagicCube is empowering such success.

Your background is in payment technology. Does that throw people off when you talk to car companies about MagicCube?

Although I know a lot about it, my background is not on the financial side, but rather in innovating new technologies and business models across many industries. I was part of the initial teams at Netscape where we enabled the masses to experience being connected for the first time, Shoretel where VOIP for the enterprise was invented and at Siebel Systems where CRM and e-business were made mainstream. My experience at Obopay or Visa comes from my work in enabling the security and digitization, not the other way around. The beauty of such experience is that the financial industries historically pioneered other industries like aerospace and connected cars, and established standards that other industries adopt. This is helping us at MagicCube navigate industries where standards and protocols are just starting to take shape.

Explain how MagicCube came about and why it’s called MagicCube?

While running global remote payments for Visa, which was under the digital and innovation side of the business, Visa and MasterCard created tokenization and figured out how to secure those tokens by asking device makers like Apple to house the tokens in their hardware. In Apple’s case this became Apple Pay. The next logical step was to figure out how to secure the Visa and MasterCard tokens without having to depend on hardware. This when we discovered that no solution existed and I was told it is impossible to have the same level of security in pure software. Given my background, I was motivated to solve this problem properly. In talking to Nancy Zayed, a distinguished engineer in her field, she figured out how to solve the problem using her years of operating systems knowledge at Apple, Cisco and other companies. Just to be able to visualize something virtual, the “cube” is what we called the secure software container that replaces the need for a hardware chip. Since we seem to have achieved a technology that we were told was impossible, what came to our minds was Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s quote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  Hence MagicCube.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m excited by the evolution and the social impact potential of self-driving cars. When it comes to autonomous cars, we still have a fair way to go, mainly because car systems will need to process data without attackers gaining any form of control on the car or any of its systems. That is where the success, and even the viability of self-driving cars will be measured.

 

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How IoT Will Transform The Automotive Industry

The advent of smartphones, and the rise of mobile internet and mobile apps disrupted and transformed the way we live and do business. Thanks to the millions of mobile apps you can buy or download from app stores, you practically have your mailbox, office, photo album, TV, game console, shopping cart and much more at your disposal any time you like.

Now, thanks to the Internet of Things, the phenomenon that is already triggering the next digital revolution, your car will become integrated with your increasingly-connected life and will be added to the collection of things that fit in that little gadget you carry in your pocket all the time. Already, the combination of IoT gadgets and mobile apps in vehicles is gaining popularity among consumers and fleet operators, providing functionality and opportunities that were inconceivable a few years ago, which make them more efficient, safer to drive, more resistant to crime and theft, and less costly to maintain.

The current possibilities are virtually endless, and the future is even more exciting. Here’s a glimpse of how IoT connectivity, smart sensors and gadgets, edge computing, mobile apps and cloud services will revolutionize how you interact with and use your car.

IoT provides improved access and security

With every part of your vehicle being connected to the internet, you’ll have better remote access and control over your vehicle’s functionality with your phone. Ignition, windows, lights, trunk, everything can be manipulated through your smartphone while you’re busy elsewhere.

So you can start the engine with a tap on the phone and let it warm up in winter while you’re having breakfast and going over news headlines.

BMW puts this functionality to display with its My BMW Remote App, which enables car owners to remotely unlock or lock their cars, sound the horn, flash the lights, and turn on the auxiliary heating/ventilation system.

Viper SmartStart is an example of how you can integrate IoT with legacy technology. The kit, comprised of IoT gadgets, a mobile app, and a mobile app will give you enhanced control on your vehicle. After installing the IoT devices in your car, you can use the SmartStart app to start, lock, unlock and locate your car with a swipe and tap on your phone.

But mobile access surpasses convenience and also enters the realm of security.

Today’s mobile devices protect your data with state-of-the-art security and encryption features that are hard to hack even for government agencies. IoT will help you leverage this enhanced level of security in your car and improve theft prevention.

NFC door locks can relieve you of the nightmares linked to your car keys being lost or stolen. After registering the lock with your phone through its associated mobile app, you can unlock your car by tapping your phone against the handle. You can rest assured that only a person possessing your phone and being able to unlock it can unlock the door to your car. And in case you want to lend your car to a friend or family member, all you have to do is to grant access to their phone through your mobile app.

TapKey has implemented this concept successfully, creating a mobile app that turns the smartphone to a car key and enables car owners to securely and easily grant vehicle access to others.

And in case you lose your phone, having the lock registered with another phone will be a matter of logging into a cloud app and introducing your new phone.

Smart car alarms will quickly send an alert to your smartphone in case your car is being broken into, and in case your car does get stolen, your mobile app will help you find and track it through its GPS device. This can help report the theft and have it recovered much faster.

IoT provides improved control over vehicle status and driving

On-board Diagnostic (OBD). Telematics devices are smart cloud-connected IoT boxes installed on vehicles which provide insights and real-time information about vehicle health and driver habits. These devices function by communicating with a set of smart sensors installed on different vehicle parts including doors, windows, engine and tires, and constantly monitor and report the status of the vehicle.

A mobile app interacting with the telematics system can act as a digital assistant which alerts drivers in real-time about measurable events such as speeding, sharp cornering, seatbelt usage and over-acceleration. The app can also communicate with the cloud service where historical driving data is stored in order to enlighten drivers about bad habits they should correct, and their driving improvements over time.

EcoDrive is an interesting app that monitors your driving habits in real-time, including acceleration, deceleration, changing gears and speed variation, and gives you a score (or eco:Index) which helps you assess your safe driving skills.

More advanced use of IoT and telematics would be to keep tabs on and alert about maintenance issues that can compromise passenger safety, such as low tire pressure, malfunctioning engine, parts that need replacements and overdue services. Drivers would be able to get a complete report of their vehicles with a tap and swipe on their phone and without the need to look under the hood.

Chrysler’s UConnect app is an example of the efficient use of telematics and mobile technology. The app lets you remotely monitor and control your car’s maintenance, provides you with monthly health reports and alerts you about critical maintenance issues that need immediate attention.

The best part about telematics and on-board diagnostics is that they’re standardized across the industry and do not require vendor-specific integration, which means your mobile app and historical driving data can be migrated and ported when you switch vehicles.

IoT sensors improve vehicle safety

While the intersection of IoT and vehicles provides many opportunities, perhaps safety is the most prevalent. If there’s one thing that IoT should be praised for, it’s the fact that it’s promoting safe driving and assisting drivers in avoiding road incidents.

With more and more cities investing in smart infrastructures, IoT-powered vehicles are much better prepared to help drivers in commuting safely. Interacting with IoT sensors installed on roads, connected vehicles can detect when drivers are veering off the road as the result of distraction or fatigue, and alert them to steer back on the road. In the case of semi- and fully-autonomous vehicles, the car itself can take matters into its hands and correct the vehicle’s direction if the driver doesn’t react.

Smart sensors and smart cement can also gather information about road surface and bridge conditions. Connecting to cloud servers, mobile apps get real-time insights about road conditions and assist drivers in choosing safer roads and avoiding hazardous areas before heading out. In case a driver treks into a particularly dangerous zone, e.g. an ice-covered road, connected vehicles will directly communicate with local gateways and sensors, retrieve data about road conditions, and warn drivers about the dangers and instruct them to slow down.

In 2007, the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi Bridge in Minneapolis resulted in 13 casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage. Today’s IoT technology could’ve detected the bridge’s failing structure and warned both maintenance authorities and drivers about the dangers, saving lives and preventing damage.

IoT helps avoid traffic and congestion

Few things are as frustrating as getting stuck in a traffic jam when you’re late for work or want to attend an important event. Being able to avoid congestion and plan in advance can save you time and also reduce fuel consumption.

Fortunately, IoT can help in this sector as well. IoT sensors in roadways track and report commuting in real-time, which can help drivers better plan their trip and avoid crowded areas while also assisting city authorities in distributing congestion and pushing traffic toward the less frequented areas.

Mobile apps gleaning information from traffic sensors can estimate time of arrival based on the level of traffic and also provide alternative routes to drivers which will cut down the time and stress of the trip.

The added benefit of controlling traffic through IoT technology will help reduce car accidents considerably, and will collectively reduce pollution and help us have greener cities.
IBM has a great post on how it’s using apps and its IoT platform to collect traffic data, generate insights and control congestion.

Caveats and requirements

All the benefits of connected, IoT-equipped and mobile controlled vehicles isn’t without its drawbacks. The vehicle industry is already dealing with several worries where vehicle IoT is concerned, chief among them being security and privacy issues. There have already been several cases where connected cars have been hacked through mobile apps, infotainment systems and other insecure connected gadgets that are installed on the car.

While none of these dismisses the importance and impact that IoT will have over the future of cars, it does highlight the need to pay more attention to the security of IoT, especially in the vehicle industry.

This can be achieved by making sure the developed software is built by experts that have the knowhow to deliver both functionality and security. Secure coding should be one of the main tenets of any software that will be installed in our cars and their related peripherals, lest we want to see them be exploited by malicious actors and used against us.

The future of IoT in vehicles

For the moment, you have your car in your pocket. But this is just a taste of how IoT is transforming the automotive industry. Cars that can be parked with a single tap of an app button, circular economies where automobiles are shared and rented as a service through mobile apps, and the era of completely autonomous vehicles are not far away. Every day, the Internet of Things is conquering new summits. Who knows what tomorrow holds?

See how Mokriya develops solutions for IoT problems

(Photo courtesy of Faraday Future)

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The ‘connected’ car, not to be confused with the self-driving, autonomous car, is defined as any vehicle equipped with Internet access that allows data to be sent to and from the vehicle.

Since the automobiles were invented, car makers have been trying to add features which may reduce driver error. Today’s car has the computing power of 20 personal computers, features about 100 million lines of programming code, and processes up to 25 gigabytes of data an hour.

Digital technology is also changing how we use and interact with our cars, and in more ways than you probably realize.

The market for smart vehicles is certainly set for takeoff and many analysts predict they could revolutionize the world of automobiles in much the same way smartphones have changed the face of telecommunications.

Is your car connected to the Internet? Millions of vehicles around the world had embedded Internet access, offering their drivers a multitude of smart options and benefits. These include better engine controls, automatic crash notifications and safety alerts, to name just a few. Owners can also interact with their connected vehicles through apps from any distance.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, for example, could help automobiles detect one another's presence and location to avoid accidents. That could be especially useful when it comes to driver-less cars - another advance already very much in development. Similar technology could help ensure that cars and their drivers slow down for school zones or stop at red lights.

Connected vehicle technologies provide the tools to make transformational improvements in safety, to significantly reduce the number of lives lost each year through connected vehicle crash prevention applications.

The Connected Car will be optimized to track and report its own diagnostics, which is part of its appeal for safety conscious drivers.

Connected cars give superior Infotainment services like navigation, traffic, weather, mobile apps, emails and also entertainment.

Auto insurers also have much to gain from the connected car revolution, as personalized, behavior based premiums are already becoming new industry standard.

OEMS and dealers must embrace the Big Data revolution now, so they’re ready to harness the plethora of data that will become available as more and more connected cars hit the roads.

Cloud computing powers much of the audio streaming capabilities and dashboard app functions that are becoming more commonplace in autos.

In the next 5 years it seems that non-connected cars will become a thing of the past.  Here are some good examples of connected cars:

  • Mercedes-Benz models introduced this year can link directly to Nest, the Internet of Things powered smart home system, to remotely activate a home’s temperature controls prior to arrival.
  • Audi has developed a 12.3 inch, 3d graphics fully digital dashboard in partnership with NVIDIA.
  • Telematics Company OnStar can shut down your stolen car remotely helping police solve the case.
  • ParkMe covers real time dynamic parking information and guide drivers to open parking lots and meters. It if further integrating with mobile payments.

The next wave is driver-less, fully equipped and connected car, where there will be no steering wheels, brakes, gas pedals and other major devices. You just have to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!!

This article originally appeared here.
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