Minimising Cyber Attack Threats for Connected Fleet Vehicles

In Global Automotive Cybersecurity 2020, a report by Upstream found that since 2016 there has been a 94% of rise year-over-year in fleet cyber attacks.

With the integration of connected technologies, fleet vehicles become susceptible to potential fleet cyber attacks. To safeguard your fleet from exploitation and prevent your organization from falling prey to such cyber threats, a fool proof fleet safety plan is essential

Let’s delve into the world of cyber threats to fleets and understand how your fleet can be a target for cybercriminals.

How Hackers Can Gain Access to Your Company’s Connected Vehicles?

Hackers employ diverse techniques to infiltrate your company’s vehicles. They exploit vulnerabilities present in wireless connections like Bluetooth or WiFi, and they specifically target the electronic control unit (ECU) responsible for managing the vehicle’s functions. 

Additionally, connected devices such as smartphones that are connected to the vehicle’s ports can serve as entry points for fleet cyber attacks.

Once a cyber attacker successfully gains access to a single vehicle, they can potentially extend their control over the entire fleet. This elevated level of access grants them the ability to manipulate crucial functions such as shutting down the engine, controlling steering, and disabling the brakes. Furthermore, they can gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, exposing your company to significant risks.

In simpler terms, hackers can find weaknesses in wireless connections and the vehicle’s internal systems, allowing them to take control of your vehicle remotely. Implementing robust cybersecurity measures, restricting access to authorized personnel, and staying updated on the latest security patches can help protect your fleet from these potential dangers.


Ways to Protect Against Fleet Cyber Attacks

Vehicle cyber attacks can be concerning, but being aware of the problem is the first step in defending against them.

Let’s talk about some protection you can implement to defend your fleet from cyber attackers:


Develop a Comprehensive Cybersecurity Strategy

  • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities within your fleet’s digital infrastructure.
  • Create robust cybersecurity policies and procedures that have best practices for data protection, access control, incident response, and employee responsibilities.
  • Establish an incident response plan to mitigate the impact of potential fleet cyber attacks.


Educate and Train Your Employees

  • Provide cybersecurity awareness training to all employees, recognizing the importance of strong passwords, identifying phishing attempts, and safe online practices.
  • Train employees on how to identify and report suspicious activities or potential security braces promptly.
  • Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and encourage employees to stay vigilant.


Implement Strong Access Control

  • Use multifactor authentication for accessing critical systems and data.
  • Restrict user privileges to ensure that employees only have access to the resources necessary for tier job functions.
  • Review and update user access permission frequently with respect to chaining roles and responsibilities.


Regularly Update and Patch Systems

  • Keep all software, firmware, and operating systems up to date with the latest security patches and updates.
  • Consider implementing an automated patch management system to streamline the process.


Encrypt Data

  • Use encryption techniques to protect sensitive data both at rest and in transit.
  • Encrypt data stored on devices, servers, and in cloud storage to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Implement secure communication protocols such as SSL/TLS for data transmission over networks.


Choose the Fleet Management Software

  • Get the best software and inspect the loopholes in your system that might cause harm.
  • Keep checking for updates on your software with the new technology development.
  • It is important for fleet management software to provide customizable access control capabilities, as using rigid software with a standard access plan can pose risks to your company’s security.


Approaches for Guarding Telematic Data From Fleet Cyber Attacks

In the fleet market, telematics data is extremely useful but also vulnerable to fleet cyber attacks. Fleet managers can employ the following measures to safeguard this data:


Limit Data Access

Grant access to telematics data only to employees who require it for their roles. Consider having a small group of individuals with direct access to the actual data while others receive summary reports from them.


Regularly Update Your Fleet Management Software

Fleet management software also needs frequent updates. Keep an eagle eye on the inactive or turned-off devices to ensure they receive updates.


Anonymize Driver Data

Unless there is a specific need to identify individual drivers, consider anonymizing driver data in your telematics system. By avoiding the inclusion of personal identifiers, such as driver names, you reduce the risks associated with revealing specific employee information to potential hackers.


Final Thoughts

As the fleet industry advances into the digital era, the threats to fleets loom large. However, by understanding the risks, implementing robust cybersecurity practices, fostering a cyber aware culture, and leveraging innovative technologies, you can navigate the digital battlefield with confidence.

Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing journey, and staying vigilant is paramount.

With the right strategies and solutions in place, you can minimize the threat to fleets and ensure the safety, reliability, and profitability of your fleet operations.

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