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Cybersecurity Ecosystems Necessary to Ensure Tech Security – Ward's Auto

As the world becomes increasingly connected through advancements in technology, ensuring the safety and security of automobiles, drones, electronic devices and our cities is a top priority.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool that’s being used to improve nearly every industry. From digital farming tools used to help growers optimize and sustain their crops, to driverless shuttles that aim to improve mobility solutions in cities worldwide, AI technology is rapidly transforming business models across the globe.

Although the industries may be different, the goal remains the same: to use machine learning to create efficiencies and improve operations to produce safer, more effective products for consumers.

If the end game is increased safety, cybersecurity needs to be a large part of the conversation.

Combating the Perils of Connected Convenience

It’s no secret that AI is disrupting our everyday lives. From Amazon Alexa to Waymo’s driverless taxi service, the way we live, work and play is changing forever, with many of these advances providing more convenience to consumers. This technology definitely makes life easier, but just how safe is it from a data-breaching standpoint?

Take driverless vehicles for instance. With several incidents making the news over the last year, many of the big players in driverless car development pressed pause to evaluate algorithms, systems and hardware.

They also posed the question of whether cyberattacks play a role in the dysfunction of AV technology.

There is more data in vehicles than ever before. With sensors connecting driverless vehicles to a city’s infrastructure, cameras, radar and lidar to navigate the vehicle’s surrounding, and in-cabin technologies that monitor the drowsiness of a driver to alert in instances where a takeover is needed, some worry the same technology that was created to mitigate safety risks could actually pose a threat.

Who owns the data that’s being collected on a daily basis in our vehicles? And where exactly is it being stored? Does a virtual cloud exist for every single vehicle on the road? And if so, is that cloud secure?

These are questions consuming cyber sectors.

As automakers have risen to the challenge to meet consumer demand for improved mobility and accessibility through driverless vehicles, mobile connectivity runs an inherent risk on privacy and safety.

At least 1.4 million vehicles have been impacted by cybersecurity-related recalls since 2015. As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regularly collaborates with other government agencies, vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and the public to further industry efforts in addressing vehicle cybersecurity challenges.

The Business Case for Cybersecurity

According to a national 2018 Deloitte study on cybersecurity, at least one state reported an average of 300 million attacks per day.

To develop proactive strategies to prevent cyberattacks, Michigan launched the Cybersecurity Initiative in 2011, the world’s first comprehensive state-level approach to cybersecurity. This program has effectively improved the state’s cybersecurity defenses and fosters rapidly growing talent and business environments.

Michigan now ranks third for cybersecurity growth potential and has experienced a 17 percent growth in occupations like computer science, web development, etc. that are core to the IT and cybersecurity industry over the past five years. These roles are crucial to a subject that touches all industries. 

Creating Cybersecurity Ecosystems

Effective cybersecurity requires collaboration, the current workforce and higher education institutions. As we combat these challenges, the main crisis is talent acquisition in the cybersecurity space.

Michigan has developed robust cybersecurity communities focused on connecting people, educational institutions, employers and local governments to develop cybersecurity ecosystems. The state is home to the SAE CyberAuto and CyberTruck Challenges as well as new innovative programs addressing industry needs, like Wayne State University’s certificate program in cyber-physical systems.

As of 2016, there were nearly 140,000 people working in the IT and cybersecurity realm in Michigan, more than half of whom are in the Detroit region. Companies offering IT and cybersecurity services have roughly 20,000 sites throughout Michigan.

The state is also home to the Michigan Cyber Range – the nation’s largest unclassified, network accessible cybersecurity training platform. Run by Merit Network, the Cyber Range provides students and IT professionals with a foundation through hands-on coursework, exercises and labs plus more than 40 professional certifications, developing talent and setting a framework for other states. While network cybersecurity has been around for a long time, an industry focus on the security of cyber-physical systems is a new and emerging market.

We need input from experts on what their needs are so that we can train existing and future workforce to meet the cybersecurity industry’s growing needs. Cybersecurity should no longer be the industry’s biggest threat, but rather newest safety feature.

About the author: Sarah Tennant, Strategic Advisor of Cyber Initiatives for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Sarah.Tennant Headshot.jpg


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