Thatcham drive standards in cyber security

Establishing standards to promote consumer confidence around vehicle cyber security is high on the agenda for Thatcham Research, as the British insurers’ research centre turns attentions to combatting future car crime as the newest members of the Cyber Security Consortium for Connected Vehicles (CCV).

Connected vehicle technology provides the basis for many emerging driver assistance and comfort systems yet it’s this convergence between automotive and computer technology that could also provide opportunity for cyber attackers. However, according to Thatcham’s chief technology officer Andrew Miller, the key to keeping thieves at bay is in a joined up approach to creating robust standards.

‘There are a wide range of stakeholders with an obvious interest in this area from the likes of Google and Apple who are increasingly moving into the automotive space to the more traditional vehicle manufacturers. With this mix of interested parties it’s critical to quickly establish a set of robust security standards and protocols around cyber security that everyone can agree and work to and which will avoid the kind of fragmented approach that hackers could exploit.’

According to government statistics, the scale of cyber-crime is already thought to cost the UK economy over £27 billion per year, whilst the idea of a third party being able to ‘hack’ in and take over a vehicle’s controls is a terrifying prospect.

‘No connected computer system can be 100% guaranteed, and as technological development in the automotive industry continues at pace so that security threat potentially increases,’ added Miller. ‘However, Thatcham have demonstrated previously how a collaborative approach can help the authorities stay one step ahead of the criminals.’

Thatcham’s vehicle security credentials are well established, with the centre already responsible for evaluating security levels on all new vehicles destined for UK roads, both as a basis for insurance grouping and as a consumer guide to vehicle security standards.

Since Thatcham established its specialist security team in the mid-90s cases of vehicle theft have fallen to less than 100,000 per year, down from over 600,000, whilst insurers are saving an estimated £300m in claims costs per year compared to the figure at its height.

Now as part of the Cyber Security Consortium for Connected Vehicles Thatcham will provide their experience in the development of new standards around Cyber Security, as well as in their influence on vehicle and product manufacturers to establish a coordinated approach to future security solutions.

‘Thatcham having been instrumental in driving down traditional forms of vehicle crime, so it’s imperative that we’re now at the table taking a leading role in developing and coordinating future preventative measures on behalf of our members.’

Thatcham have emerged as a key player in the journey towards the fully connected, driverless car. The research centre is at the forefront of evaluating and promoting a wide range of semi-autonomous vehicle technologies and driver assistance systems, many of which rely on increasing vehicle connectivity.

As part of the Cyber Security Consortium for Connected Vehicles, Thatcham will look to represent insurers and their policy holders in joining forces with the 5 other group members; Thales eSecurity, Plextek Consulting, Intercede, Qonex and Horiba MIRA.