Truck Takeovers?

Cybersecurity concerns roll into the roadways as transportation vehicles become more high-tech and computerized.

* By Fiona Soltes *

As the journey toward connectivity, mobility, new technology and the Internet of Things continues to gather speed, it can be tempting to accelerate the search for solutions at the same time. This especially can be the case when it comes to the increasing risks of cybersecurity. Much has been made of how increased tech in transportation trucks and autos can equate to increased vulnerabilities for companies and drivers.

But hit those brakes before rushing in blindly and incorporating a “solution” to a perceived and/or anticipated transportation cybersecurity threat: Though the risks of hacking are real, the threat can be mitigated in a variety of ways. Finding and installing the right platform or software can help, but so can working toward a greater understanding of what such solutions actually do, how behavior can be modified, and what hacking might really entail.

“I think there is still a misconception out there that when you get into your car to drive home from work later today you might fall prey to a massive and coordinated vehicle cyberattack, in which a rogue state threatens to hold you and your vehicle ransom unless you meet their demands,” said Adam Boulton, chief technology officer, BlackBerry Technology Solutions. “While an instance such as this could, in theory, happen, its plausibility of occurring is much weaker.”

So let’s separate fiction from reality. Hollywood movies, Boulton noted, are good at exaggerating what’s possible; imagine, for example, an “instant and entire compromise of fleets that undermines all safety systems in cars.”

The biggest threats, however, may be much more simple.

Ryan Webber, global director of enterprise mobility for integrated mobility and Internet of Things solutions provider and MHI member SOTI, said it’s increasingly common for vehicles in the transportation and logistics space to have mounted tablets; with slim industry margins, the goal is to ensure drivers are as efficient as possible.

“The challenge we’ve found is that a lot of times, people are investing in the technology, but they don’t really have a clear understanding of its intended use,” Webber said. “That in itself offers up some security risks.”

These tablets, he said, often include sensitive corporate content. In addition, because of the nature of the job, the drivers may move in and out of more Wi-Fi access areas—and one in three networks is either insecure or carries some sort of security risk.

On the other hand, he noted—citing a report from TrendMicro—roughly 41 percent of data breaches overall are caused by a lost or stolen device. Hacking and malware accounts for just 25 percent.

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