Security

Volkswagen backs new cybersecurity firm to protect connected cars and autonomous vehicles

The German automaker recently partnered with two Israeli technology companies to form a new firm that will protect against threats to future automobiles.

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Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen recently announced that it was forming a new cybersecurity company, in partnership with Israeli security experts, to work on security tools and solutions relative to connected cars and autonomous vehicles.

The company, called CYMOTIVE Technologies, will be based in Herzliya, Israel and Wolfsburg, Germany. The efforts of the new firm will be led by Yuval Diskin, Tsafrir Kats, and Tamir Bechor, a press release said.

The announcement from Volkswagen cited the increased risk that comes with adding new connectivity features and novel technologies to vehicles. It also noted that the attack surface of a connected automobile is further expanded by features such as autonomous driving capabilities.

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Volkmar Tanneberger, head of electrical and electronic development for Volkswagen, was present at the signing of the new partnership. In the press release, he called the cooperative effort "a long-term investment in cyber security to make vehicles and their ecosystem more secure."

One of the core partners in the endeavor is Yuval Diskin, the former head of the Israeli Security Services. Diskin, who will work as chairman of CYMOTIVE Technologies, said that he is excited about the potential, but noted that there are hurdles to overcome.

"We are aware of the significant technological challenges that will face us in the next years in dealing with the cybersecurity threats facing the connected car and the development of the autonomous car," Diskin wrote in a press release.

The potential security threats associated with future automobiles are one of the biggest points of contention among drivers and automakers. Hacks of certain Jeep models have already been confirmed, but it is still unclear as to just how many potential threats drivers of connected cars face. In the Jeep situation, hackers were able to disable the car's brakes, but the test wasn't necessarily indicative of what could happen in a real-world scenario.

Last year, a researcher claimed he was able to "hack" an autonomous car with a laser pointer, adding to security concerns in the industry. And, as ZDNet's Charlie Osborne pointed out, Volkswagen experienced its own security scare when it was shown that their wireless entry systems could be cloned and used to enter other vehicles.

Some experts have said that one of the biggest needs for the auto industry is a wireless OTA update system for car software. And, while certain experts claim this type of technology is in use in government, it is still too expensive for car manufacturers.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. VW is partnering with three key Israeli security experts to form a new company called CYMOTIVE Technologies that will work on security systems for connected cars.
  2. The attack surface on connected cars keeps growing, with the addition of wireless technologies and autonomous capabilities.
  3. The issue of cybersecurity will be one of the biggest challenges for the evolution of next-generation automobiles moving forward.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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