Volkswagen, Israeli group form car cybersecurity firm – USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO – When cars can talk to the Internet, hackers can talk to cars. Which is why Volkswagen has become the latest in a string of companies entering the automotive cybersecurity realm.
The German company is collaborating with three former employees Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency, including Yuval Diskin, the agency’s former head, to found CyMotive Technologies.
The new automotive cyber security company will be 40% owned by the automaker and 60% by the Israeli group. It will be based in a suburb of Tel Aviv, Israel and Wolfsburg, Germany, home of Volkswagen.
“The age of the connected car enables customers to use a variety of features inside modern vehicles. However, with increasing connectivity comes an increasing risk. Aspects such as intelligent and autonomous driving increase the number of interfaces in the vehicle and thus the risk of malicious attack,” Volkswagen said in a release.
Automotive cybersecurity is a new and burgeoning field. In a report released in January, analysis firm Gartner counted 22 cybersecurity companies that either focused specifically on automotive security or that had divisions which did so.
Most car buyers aren’t thinking about cybersecurity when they look at vehicles yet, in part because few of today’s cars and trucks are truly connected. However concerns about possible regulatory issues as well as potential damage to a car’s brand from bad press are pushing companies to consider the field proactively, the Gartner report said.
“If done well, this venture could improve automotive cybersecurity across the industry,” said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire, a Portland, Ore.-based software security company.
The intriguing question will be what the new company will do when it faces an issue that affects not just Volkswagen vehicles but all cars.
“If Cymotive takes on the industry problems, instead of focusing on just Volkswagen, it will be in the very interesting position of directly affecting competitors’ market performance,” Erlin said.
Multiple stand-alone companies focusing on automotive cybersecurity have appeared in the past few years.