US car-makers launch info-sharing hub to track cyber threats

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One of the more common concerns people have about the advent of driverless cars is their potential exposure to cyber threats, such as hacking.

As cars rely more and more on autonomous technologies to navigate, drive themselves and avoid accidents, the security of these technologies and the networks that support them is crucial. And it's an area that critics point to as a significant risk in the development of self-driving vehicles. 

This week, in a move set to help allay these fears, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a collection of US car-makers, announced the launch of the Auto Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC).

The Auto ISAC will act as a central hub for intelligence and the analysis of cyber threats, highlighting potential weaknesses in vehicles electronics systems and networks.

 
 

Shared intelligence

Launching the Auto ISAC, Robert Strassburger, Vice President of Vehicle Safety at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said: "When it comes to cyber security, sound cyber policy and resiliency is collaborative."

The collaborative nature of the ISAC will see manufacturers share intelligence about threats, which will be distributed to car-makers around the world. 

In time, the Auto ISAC is likely to expand to including suppliers and even strategic partners, such as telecommunication providers and technology companies.

"The Auto ISAC will allow automakers to more effectively counter cyber threats in real time and further enhance the industry's ongoing efforts to safeguard vehicle electronic systems and networks," continued Strassburger.

Protecting data privacy

The establishment of the Auto ISAC will also complement ongoing activity to promote the security of vehicle-generated data through two voluntary privacy principles, noted Strassburger.

Companies adopting these principles promise to:

  • Notify consumers about what kinds of data may be collected from vehicles;
  • Provide extra protection for the most sensitive types of data (e.g. geolocation information); and
  • Limit the circumstances under which data may be shared with government authorities.

Strassburger also called on Congress to boost the initiative by including legal protections to facilitate cyber security information sharing. 

As car-makers prepare for an increasingly interconnected future, he said, "We have the opportunity to anticipate and prepare for the complexities and challenges that the future may bring. 

"The Auto ISAC and our data Privacy Principles are the latest examples of the proactive and diverse approaches that automakers are taking to enhance vehicle and data security which remains among the industry's top priorities."

The Auto ISAC is expected to begin operations later this year.