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BT announced an “ethical hacking” service on April 20, 2015, to help the automotive industry protect cars against cyber threats. Security is a major connected car challenge, highlighted by a US senator’s recent report concluding that automakers are not protecting against cyber-attacks. A class-action lawsuit alleging automakers knowingly sold cars vulnerable to security breaches stresses the issue further.

BT security to help automakers

BT’s announcement is timely because security has come to the forefront of the connected car market. BT aims to help automakers harden systems through its “BT Assure Ethical Hacking for Vehicles,” a professional service that identifies automobile networking vulnerabilities, including insecure access via servers, dealerships, social networking sites, and even physical connections.

Ovum’s recent connected car report (Connected Consumer Car: Getting There, March 2015) identified that security improvements are needed to help the market grow. Two US examples highlight the extent of the issues:

  • US Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) questioned 16 automakers and found that nearly all cars on the market include wireless technologies that could be vulnerable to hacking

  • A class-action Dallas lawsuit goes further, seeking remedy from automakers for allegedly failing to ensure consumer safety because they knowingly sold/leased automobiles with operating systems susceptible to computer hacking.

BT plans to offer other automotive security services, including using Big Data for analytics and secure gateways for wireless networks. A 2014 GM recall of 370,000 pickup trucks for a software upgrade further highlights the power of a secure network. The defect could cause fires due to overheating of components. Both automaker and consumer could have benefited from an over-the-air (OTA) software update – a fast, simple, and cost-effective correction facilitated through a secure network.

BT’s offering strengthens its position in security, an area where it has deep roots but may not be well known. BT has offered security services for 70 years and manages 14 global security centers with over 2,000 employees. Success with its ethical hacking service can help BT grow to support emerging connected verticals with similar security issues, such as energy and connected home.


Further reading

Connected Consumer Car: Getting There, TE0019-000008 (March 2015)

Security Implications of the Internet of Things, IT0022-000277 (December 2014)

US Senator Edward Markey’s report:

Class-action lawsuit filing:


Daryl Inniss, Practice Leader, Components

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