A new study from analysis firm Pike Research indicated that the rise of electric vehicles will create demand for greater cybersecurity practices aimed at protecting the automobiles' recharging infrastructure.
Cybersecurity represents a new avenue for the automobile industry. For all the hype surrounding electric vehicles and their potential to benefit the environment, it may be easy to forget that these automobiles rely on the electrical grid and, thus, are in need of data protection measures.
According to Pike Research's study, organizations will invest an estimated $432 million in the EV cybersecurity market between 2011 and 2015. Furthermore, EV cybersecurity market is expected to increase from $26 million to $144 million during this time.
The bulk of investment is expected to go toward security financial transactions and communications in the EV charging infrastructure. This is necessary, as an attack on the cyber infrastructure could render electric vehicles useless, the research firm noted.
"The IT and communications infrastructure supporting charging equipment will need to be resilient and secure in order to mitigate risks associated with financial transactions and the threat of hacking that is posed by the addition of these new endpoints," said Pike senior analyst Bob Lockhart.
Cloud security will also likely represent a significant portion of EV data protection spending. Earlier this year, both Ford and Toyota revealed that they are developing applications that allow drivers to connect to their hybrid and electric vehicles through the cloud. Such applications will enable drivers to monitor and control the charge settings of their vehicles.
If companies fail to protect these cloud-based networks, they run the risk of exposing sensitive information to unauthorized users, which could have serious implications for not only affected drivers, but the auto industry at large.
"A malicious attack on the EV cyber infrastructure could potentially result in brownouts or stranded vehicles, and any failure in smart charging systems could strike a huge blow to utilities as well as consumer confidence in the reliability and viability of electric vehicles as a preferred mode of transportation," Lockhard added.
As other industries have discovered, protecting sensitive customer data is no longer a luxury for businesses, but a necessity. This may be a new frontier for many auto manufacturers, who generally deal with dealers and other businesses, rather than with the customers themselves. However, given the increasingly sophisticated cyber threats facing organizations in other industries, the auto manufacturers will need to recognize the importance of data security quickly.