Vehicles were predominantly standardized for decades. These mechanized pieces of equipment were limited in design with the focus being on the engine, brakes, and other performance related physical areas of the vehicle. As time passed, the engineers became more creative as mechanical engineering advanced and became more capable of manufacturing the more complex parts and processes. This not only improved performance, e.g. maximum speed and fuel economy. The advances were also on the technology side with the introduction and increased usage of computers and networking. The vehicles now are more like a computer with wheels as shown by the head unit with the radio, internet connectivity, etc. The computer systems in the vehicles at this point have approximately 100M lines of code.
This rapid growth in the technology involved with the vehicle has created a new industry within Info Sec. In previous decades the manufacturers, for mechanical and quality assurance, would verify the parts were produced to specifications. After all, if the tie rod were not to be operational, there would be an issue. This has advanced to assuring the quality of the parts, but also the communication and endpoints in the vehicle. The new industry also completes testing to remove, as much as possible, any vulnerabilities that are known and experimenting to find any unknown issues.
This is a profitable business now and the trend will continue. This cost function is not necessarily driven by the number of cars being sold, but more of supply and demand. The demand is increasing for connectivity with vehicles. The consumer wants not only to drive the vehicle, but also have a highly functioning radio, search the internet, be able to plug in various devices into ports on the car, etc. On the other side of the equation, as this is a newer sub-industry, initially with few businesses. There has been a number of additional businesses successfully entering the market, however to varying levels of success due to the staffing expertise.
The consumer’s requirements will continue to push more interfaces along with a greater level of technology per vehicle. This is not going to slow down and will only continue to push this phenomenon along with the need for firms to test this.
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Charles Parker, II has been working in the info sec field for over a decade, performing pen tests, vulnerability assessments, consulting with small- to medium-sized businesses to mitigate and remediate their issues, and preparing IT and info sec policies and procedures. Mr. Parker’s background includes work in the banking, medical, automotive, and staffing industries.
Mr. Parker has matriculated and attained the MBA, MSA, JD, LLM, and is in the final stage of the PhD in Information Assurance and Security (ABD) from Capella University. Mr. Parker’s areas of interest include cryptography, AV, and SCADA.