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Software Defined Vehicles (SDV) – Shift in Vehicle Cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


This article is authored by Jhenu Subramaniam – Cybersecurity Solutions Architect at Tata Technologies.

The automotive OEMs are constantly pushing the boundaries to pair safety and sustainability with customer convenience in the run-up to realising the dream of connected, autonomous, shared mobility and electric vehicles (CASE). The industry is witnessing a revolutionary shift with the growing acceptance of Software Defined Vehicles (SDV), placing software at the heart of vehicle functionality. This evolution enhances safety, comfort, and connectivity features, providing a richer and more personalized driving experience. Unlike hardware functionally defined traditional vehicles, SDVs can be updated over the air (OTA), enabling continuous enhancements and the addition of new functionalities and security measures without needing physical changes. The market for SDVs is expected to reach an impressive USD 210.88 billion by 2032, highlighting the opportunity for OEMs to transform the automotive industry.


The transition to SDVs offers multiple benefits, including the simplification of vehicle architectures and a reduction in manufacturing costs. These improvements are made possible by optimizing electrical and electronic layouts and adopting High-Performance Computing (HPC) to eliminate outdated wiring and Electronic Control Units (ECUs). This technological leap forward is set to fuel innovation in creating connected, intelligent, self-driving electric vehicles. Furthermore, the introduction of vehicle operating systems and open API interfaces allows manufacturers to unlock new revenue streams through the provision of additional services. SDVs also promise to enhance the driving experience through regular software updates and the use of cloud-based virtual target units (ECU~HPC) for software (function/features) developments and validation tools to speed up the time to market for new vehicle features.

The shift towards SDVs transforms the cybersecurity landscape from focusing solely on physical components and basic electronic interfaces to addressing a broader spectrum of digital threats. The complexity of SDVs, potentially comprising over 100 million lines of code, and their integration into the Internet of Things (IoT), exposes them to various cyber threats. These include data breaches, remote hijacking, and vulnerabilities affecting software updates, and vehicle sensors. Open APIs, backend systems as well as customer privacy and connected devices in SDVs also need robust cybersecurity frameworks that cover both their hardware and software aspects.

The balancing act between ensuring robust security measures and maintaining user privacy becomes a critical issue that demands thoughtful consideration. This shift necessitates a comprehensive approach to security, focusing on the entire ecosystem, including the vehicle’s software, data privacy, and secure communication channels. The scarcity of skilled professionals who can effectively implement and manage cybersecurity measures for SDVs further aggravates these critical challenges.

In response, automakers are adopting best practices from the software industry, like DevSecOps and closed-loop security processes, which integrate security at the initial stages of development. The vision of transforming vehicles into “computers on wheels” involves deploying real-time software updates to address vulnerabilities swiftly. Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms are being utilized to predict and prevent security breaches effectively. Continuous monitoring and quick response to security incidents are crucial in protecting both the vehicle and user data from unauthorized access and misuse, ensuring privacy and compliance with data protection regulations.

Looking ahead, Accenture’s estimate that revenue from digitally-enabled services in the automotive sector will rise to US$3.5 trillion by 2040 brings to the fore the importance of SDVs. The journey towards fully realizing the potential of Software Defined Vehicles hinges on successfully navigating the complex landscape of vehicle cybersecurity. It requires a multifaceted strategy that incorporates security within the design, in-depth defence protocols, continuous risk management processes, and a comprehensive cybersecurity management system at the business level.

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The automotive industry is being redefined by vehicle cybersecurity as it progresses rapidly towards software-defined vehicles that enhance user security and data privacy. This shift will ultimately usher in a new era of automotive excellence and digital intelligence.

Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not represent any of The Times Group or its employees.

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