The connected car is becoming one of the most exciting and widely discussed “things” in the Internet of Things (IoT). A recent study shows that the market will reach $52 billion this year, and that number is expected to grow to $155 billion by 2022. But due to the rapid emergence and evolution of connected car technology, there is a great deal of uncertainty about these vehicles, what they can do, the data they generate, and how secure they really are.

In actuality, connected cars can be extremely safe and secure and provide numerous benefits to consumers — from mobility as a service to a more efficient and personalized driving experience to new everyday conveniences and greater safety on the road. To showcase and accelerate these benefits, we need to first clarify some common misperceptions and separate connected car fiction from fact. The following are five connected car “myths”… busted.

Myth: Making connected cars safe and secure requires breakthroughs in security technology.

Reality: Connected cars are extremely complex, with many sensors, computers, and networks, along with an ever-growing list of features. Fortunately, high-tech companies and automakers are working to harness and adapt technologies proven in the enterprise to help secure connected cars.

For example, an Internet Protocol (IP) over Ethernet backbone architecture for in-vehicle networking is one huge step toward holistic connected car security. With all communications standardized and passing through the backbone, the network can analyze and control traffic with tried and true security technologies, like access controls, Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS), encryption, firewalls, key-based authentication, and more.

In addition, IoT connectivity management platforms can automate how and when a vehicle connects and what it does with that connection throughout its entire life cycle. For example, through such a platform, an automotive manufacturer can automatically disable connectivity while a vehicle is being shipped, preventing abuse of the connection during transit. Then, once the car arrives at the dealership, connectivity can be automatically and securely resumed.

Myth: Given all the data they collect, connected cars pose privacy as well as security concerns, leaving consumers with a negative impression. It will be difficult to change their minds to drive adoption and market growth.

Reality: Yes, connected cars are collecting more and more data — driving patterns, biometrics, video, radar, and Lidar sensors of the surroundings, and even data on shopping habits. Experts estimate that highly automated vehicles will used 4 terabytes of data per day. Naturally, some consumers find this unnerving and prefer to forgo connected services in order to maintain greater control of their personal data.

As in-vehicle network architectures become more secure, automakers will also be able to address consumers’ privacy concerns at a very granular level. Drivers will have options for governing the kinds of information they provide and how it is used. And by securely collecting that data, automakers can deliver more personalized driving experiences to their customers — based on preferences and behavior. Vehicle manufacturers can offer such products and services as a hypermiling package, cockpit skins, or new Alexa skills — like the recent offer from Ford and Starbucks — all according to current and historical behavioral patterns. They can also create a safer driving experience by providing predictive maintenance and repair services based on analytics. With advances in in-vehicle networks, consumers can rest assured that data privacy will be strong and seamlessly managed in connected cars.

With regard to security perceptions, 62 percent of consumers say they fear that cars in the future will be easily hacked, yet 42 percent say they support cars becoming more connected. Indeed, the key to driving adoption and changing negative perceptions of connected vehicles will be securing them. In fact, a 2016 IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study showed that 56 percent of consumers said security and privacy would be essential differentiators in their future purchasing decisions.

By applying secure network architectures, automakers can ease concerns about these vehicles and help cautious consumers focus on all the benefits a connected car has to offer. The aforementioned projected market growth and the 11 percent jump in drivers’ willingness to pay for connected car services are signs that consumer interest and confidence in the connected car are on the rise.

Myth: The connected car is mostly about next-generation infotainment.

Reality: The connected car offers more than the ability to stream music and video, provide real-time traffic updates, or integrate seamlessly with your mobiles and wearables.

We are beginning to see “en route” services, like immersive video conferencing and collaboration. We will also see frictionless commerce, whereby the car anticipates and fulfills the drivers’ and passengers’ needs for food, beverages, and other items by seamlessly interacting with smart infrastructure, such as sensing fast food restaurants and café parking lots. For example, drivers may place a food order via an in-vehicle application while they are traveling (or the car might even suggest stopping to get food based on route, timing, and preferences). Then, using location-based services, the car can automatically notify the restaurant when it is close so the order will be ready upon arrival. When the car pulls into the drive-thru or a parking space, the car alerts the restaurant to bring out the order and acts as a digital wallet. This streamlines the entire transaction and improves the customer experience so the driver can go about his or her day.

While these experiences are certainly part of connected vehicles’ offerings, the true power goes far beyond what you see on your dashboard. Predictive maintenance, driver-assisted and highly automated driving, and software-defined vehicle personalization all involve technologies deeper within the vehicle. With the evolution toward architectures like the IP over Ethernet backbone and vehicles connected securely to cloud-based analytics, the range of services that can be delivered is nearly endless.

Myth: The automaker bears the brunt of responsibility to secure the connected car.

Reality: The automaker is just one player in an entire ecosystem of connected car-related technologies. As new vehicle sensors and parts, highway and municipal infrastructure, and applications emerge every day, responsibility falls on each member of the ecosystem to keep the connected car, its drivers, its passengers, and their data safe.

The vehicle manufacturer is just one link in the security chain and every link counts, including the multiple tiers of suppliers, dealerships, developers of aftermarket devices and services, regulatory bodies, and even other industries creating IoT devices and services that interact with connected cars. It is especially important for third parties who provide connected car applications to have secure infrastructures. For instance, a mall operator installing vehicle-to-infrastructure units to guide heavy traffic safely and quickly to optimal parking spots will need to ensure that all the proper security controls are in place.

Myth: Automotive manufacturers are moving quickly to connected cars.

Reality: A collection of isolated heritage networks in the vehicle and a mushrooming architecture of individual computers and sensors are slowing progress for the world’s largest auto manufacturers. To realize the full potential of connected cars, new sensors like Lidar, radar, and video cameras need to send gigabits per second of information through the vehicle. Also, increasingly powerful processors are required to make sense of this information for safety and experience-improving features like driver assistance and automated driving.

The bandwidth limitations of networks like Controller Area Network (CAN) and Local Interconnect Network (LIN), as well as the difficulty of internetworking different domains, are holding back progress. Moreover, these traditional networks are harder to secure against ever-increasing threats. Fortunately, new architectures for in-vehicle networks, such as IP over Ethernet (with a proven track record of business value throughout decades in the enterprise), should give manufacturers both the capabilities and the agility they need to accelerate into the connected vehicle age.

As the connected car market continues to grow, now is the time to dispel many of the all-too-common myths surrounding these vehicles and promote awareness of all the benefits a well-architected connected car can offer.

Shaun Kirby is the Director of Automotive and Connected Car at Cisco Systems.


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