TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Automakers and suppliers would be better off addressing cybersecurity concerns by thinking of them as issues of quality, a cyber expert said here on Wednesday.
Anuja Sonalker, the founder of auto cybersecurity firm STEER, said the auto industry must urgently tackle issues surrounding cybersecurity as vehicles become increasingly connected to the Internet and other vehicles.
By approaching cybersecurity as an issue of quality, auto companies and suppliers will be better able to solve them, she said.
“Quality is a qualifier,” Sonalker said. "It doesn’t matter what system you’re building. So, if we cast cybersecurity as also a quality problem, it becomes easier for us -- because we know how to do quality -- to incrementally add methodologies, test cases, data, benchmarks, all of that into our existing organizational structure … and least amount of friction.”
Cybersecurity has become a hot-button issue in the industry following last year’s remote hacking of a Jeep Cherokee, which resulted in a recall of 1.4 million vehicles.
Sonalker said 2015 was a breakout year for cybersecurity.
"For the first time, executives in the auto industry were able to put a dollar figure against lack of cybersecurity,” she said.
Sonalker said automakers and suppliers must make sure their cybersecurity systems can adapt to the need of future vehicles.
“As you build, as you change your processes, you want to make sure that the processes, even if the way we are using our vehicles changes and that impacts what you build, still apply,” she said.
She said buy-in from corporate leaders is key to success. So is the ability to write code while keeping ways hackers could potentially exploit a system in mind at all times.
"If you do it right, you can see visible changes in Year 1,” Sonalker said. “And then you can use Years 2 and 3 to simply round your strategy out."