Data Safety: How Do You Protect Your Fleet from Hackers?

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Release date: 9/5/2019

(Excerpted from FLEETSolutions Sept./Oct. 2019 - Vol. 12, No. 5)

How many police academies train officers for these scenarios?

Officers are sitting in an undercover police car, staking out a drug kingpin. Out of nowhere, the car is surrounded by armed men because the bad guys hacked into the police network to find out vehicle locations. What about a terrorist attack response that is dramatically slowed down because police vehicles are remotely disabled, wherever they sit?

Today’s increasingly connected vehicles provide a trove of data and insight, but that brings another worry, especially for law enforcement fleet professionals: The valuable data also might be of interest to criminals.

“We are very concerned about the security of our vehicles’ locations and activity information being protected at all times,” said NAFA Regular Member Tim Coxwell, CAFM, Fleet Management Division Director for Leon County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office. “We can see where potential criminal market demand for this information could outpace the recognition of the value of protecting our vehicle locations, telematics, and patrolling patterns by OEM suppliers and law enforcement administrations. If we can see this information via telematics, then a criminal element can see it during a hack.”

While this issue is a concern for any vehicle, it is heightened with law enforcement vehicles, which might be at higher risk and may offer greater thrills for criminal hackers.

While OEMs are vigilantly focused on cybersecurity issues with both law enforcement and civilian vehicles, Coxwell remains concerned that the information will be vulnerable.

“I would speculate it gets worse before it gets better because through the integration of operating systems there will be more systems at risk and more opportunity for hacks,” Coxwell said. “As with our roadways, every intersection of technology is an opportunity for an unplanned change of direction.

“We are unaware of any current federal or state standards or guidelines regulating the security protocols for in-vehicle network communications,” Coxwell added. “Our industry is generally reactionary to a known exposure where a significant loss expedites the recognition of the threat and then spawns the growth and development of the response.”

A Part to Play - Whose responsibility is it to ensure that this data is kept out of the hands of criminals? Everyone has a role, from OEM to end user. However, there needs to be an understanding of roles among all parties, said Teresa Prisbrey, Senior Vice President of Operations for Zone Defense.

Read the full article here.