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Why Software-Defined Vehicles Need Built-In Cybersecurity and Privacy

AUTOMOTIVE / 05.05.23 / Steve Kovsky

Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry (Season 2, Episode 4 — Part 2) 

The software-based systems that control most aspects of cars and trucks are increasingly connected to the cloud — and databases. This is one of the reasons BlackBerry Chief Technology Officer Charles Eagan believes data privacy on the road is becoming critical.

“You might think you own your data but that's not always the case in the mobile space, and it’s going to become a lot more important for cars. You want to know where that location information is going, or whether your activities in your vehicle are being monitored. You want to make sure the minimum amount of data is being shared, to get the maximum features that you want.”

Eagan talked about these issues and more during part two of the fourth episode in Season 2 of “Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry.” This series explores the possibilities created by — and technologies behind — the revolution in global transportation we are witnessing today.  

We recorded our video podcast during the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Eagan is leading pioneering efforts in the delivery of secure platforms for automotive and IoT (Internet of Things) applications. In this interview, Eagan describes leading the incubation of the BlackBerry IVY™ cloud-connected platform, and how BlackBerry is delivering the features required to drive a secure software-defined vehicle (SDV) future.

Watch "Get In: The Software-Defined Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry," Season 2, Episode 4, below.

Building Trust and Security into SDVs

The number of applications in software defined vehicles continues to grow and many control key operational features. Trust and cybersecurity must be built-in to ensure vehicle safety.

“Creating ways to add applications in a trusted way is one thing that we're bringing with BlackBerry IVY, building on top of BlackBerry QNX, which is on top of the BlackBerry hypervisor. There are lots of layers of robust infrastructure with which we want to build this future software-defined vehicle,” says Eagan.

Developments in software are bringing privacy and security to the forefront. “Those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat it by trying to bolt on security after the fact,” reminds Eagan. “Most cyberattacks that have happened could be prevented. But it will only take one breach for a massive tidal wave of concern. Cars are physically safe, and that was hard fought. We need to make the software-defined vehicle just as safe. At CES 2023, we have been showing how some of our Cylance AI (artificial intelligence) technology can be applied to secure the software-defined vehicle of the future.

“We're looking at ways that we can combine cybersecurity skills and Internet of Things (IoT) functional safety with performance skills to create the software-defined vehicle and smart city. Society will need this as it becomes more connected. The software-defined vehicle is a beacon of this initiative.”

Eagan also explains how BlackBerry is actively shaping the industry. 

“We have a front row seat in the IoT space and connected smart city. We also have a front row seat in the cybersecurity space. Combining those perspectives gives us a much better opportunity to create the safety net that's going to be needed. Companies that are traditionally focused on IoT don't have deep experience of threat hunting and threat prevention, and detection and response, and cloud-based XDR. A vehicle is dumping tons of data into the cloud, and that needs to be monitored. Using AI, machine learning and active cybersecurity monitoring in an automobile is a requirement. We wouldn't think of having a laptop without protection. We shouldn't think of having a connected automobile without 10 times more cyber protection.”

The Future of Software-Defined Vehicles 

The next few years are heading in the right direction, in Eagan’s opinion. “Look at the vehicle change that has happened over the last three to five years. What we're going to see in the future is accelerating. The big future of automotive is in the software, and the big moves are going to happen in the next five years.” 

Eagan is confident that the Software-Defined Vehicle space will be an exciting place to watch. “It’s going to start with things that you may not even notice, such as more driver assist, or more safety functionality, or there will be more applications or convenience creeping in. It's not going to be an overnight switch, but we're constantly evolving this platform. Some people might take it for granted, but the excitement is there. You'll be very pleased with the functionality that you'll find in your car in the future.”

Click below to listen to Season 2, Episode 4 of “Get In: The Connected Vehicle Podcast from BlackBerry.” 

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Steve Kovsky

About Steve Kovsky

Steve Kovsky is former Editorial Director at BlackBerry.