• Madani Sahari

FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION - Cyber security key for automotive industry growth

Earlier this month the world was rocked by the WannaCry cyber worm. Many of us, for the first time, heard of the term "ransomware". Most significant, it served as an eye opener for the ever-evolving threats we face as we move into the fourth industrial revolution - a future where connectivity is at the very core of our daily lives.

Today, a car processes a massive amount of data. Its electronic control unit processes fuel injection timing, engine torque and load, vehicle speed, spark plug firing, just to name a few.

If we take a look at mid to high range models in the market, consumers receive even more onboard diagnostics, including tyre pressure and fuel distance, not to mention automated safety features, such as lane departure warnings and blind spot detection.

Last year, 94 million cars were produced worldwide. Imagine this number growing, with each connected to the other – telematics, user behaviour, traffic flow patterns, engine operations and fuel consumption, all connected to servers around the world.

If we want to make connectivity our future, we must move the cybersecurity agenda now.

While organisations such as CyberSecurity Malaysia and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) have reached tremendous in-roads in enhancing cyber security within the country, keeping our cyberspace free of attacks is everybody's responsibility.

WannaCry is estimated to have affected 200,000 victims with more than 230,000 computer infected. With such massive damage, the public awareness litmus test is simple. How many of us were aware of the attack? Second, and most important, how many among us have installed the latest security patch on our operating system?

If the likely answer for most of us is a blank, then the way forward is quite simple – more must be done to raise public awareness of the need for cyber security.

While Malaysia Automotive Institute’s Industry 4.0 initiatives have taken cyber security as one of the main pillars, a key national agenda would be to increase participation of the public in online security initiatives.

Recent breakthoughs included adoption of strong multi-factor authentication, in which access is granted beyond passwords, requiring user to add another authentication layer such as fingerprints, retinal scans or voice activation.

With this in mind, local businesses now face new opportunities created from such demand for online security.

While our domestic industry has the competitive advantage of understanding the local market when it comes to security behaviour, I urge more parties to seize this opportunity to allow locally developed cyber technology to take centre stage.

Technology may be the security enabler, but at the end of the day, people are what matter the most.

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