It’s clear that as the automotive industry moves towards fully autonomous vehicles that cybersecurity is becoming one of the industry’s major concerns. This is not a new topic as manufacturers and their supply chains have considered it a priority for years. It is recognized that inadequate security protocols can allow hackers to seize control of vehicles as well as steal personal information.

There are existing standards for cybersecurity, but they are not applicable to vehicles. To address this issue SAE International and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) entered into a joint agreement to develop a vehicle standard and last week they released their first public draft of the new international standard ISO/SAE 21434 – Road vehicles – Cybersecurity engineering.

This new standard will specify requirements for cybersecurity risk management across the whole vehicle lifecycle, including concept, development, production, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning. The document provides a framework for cybersecurity engineering and management processes, which will enable vehicle manufacturers and suppliers to communicate information transmission security requirements using a common language but without imposing constraints on technical solutions. This standard will:

  • Define common terminology for use throughout the supply chain
  • Drive industry consensus on key cybersecurity issues
  • Set minimum criteria for vehicle cybersecurity engineering
  • Can be referenced by regulators, etc.
  • Provide evidence that industry is taking information security seriously

The draft international standard has been made available for public comment. The standard is due to be published in early 2021 and is expected to become the state-of-the-art for automotive cybersecurity engineering.

There is still a lot of consumer skepticism over self-driving cars. Hopefully the existence of a common standard will be the first step in helping to ease the consumer safety concerns and allow the public to better trust and accept driverless cars.  Without this, the technological advancements will be substantially held-back by a lack of trust.

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