Q&A: Can connected cars securely serve driver preferences?

18th June 2019

Q&A: Can connected cars securely serve driver preferences?

The identity and preference of drivers are becoming increasingly intertwined with their vehicles. We ask Roger Lanctot, associate director at the global automotive practice of Strategy Analytics, what the future holds for connected services and security and the importance of consumer experience.

How will the automotive sector serve and secure our digital identities?

People talk about the connected car as a smartphone on wheels, but actually it’s a completely different experience. Almost all cars will be connected in the not too distant future.
When you have a scenario of a connected car, there are clearly implications about vehicle ownership, driver identity, who is driving the vehicle, what their route and experience preferences are, how to transfer ownership of the vehicle and so on. One of the essential elements of this connected car experience is secure identity management.
Increasingly, we are also talking about driver monitoring. So that means understanding the normal behaviors of a particular driver and having that identity integrated in a way that contributes to a safer, richer driving experience. In other words, we’ll be asking ourselves ‘is the vehicle taking care of the driver?’

What solutions will emerge in terms of how drivers are identified by cars?

So, just as the smartphone has many, many sensors in it, a car has quite a number of sensors as well, in the seats, in the seatbelt, as well as right around the inside of the vehicle and outside the vehicle. But the car also has the ability to pay attention to the driver’s facial expressions, to scan their eyes, initially to see if they’re open, but also then to analyse if the driver is becoming drowsy. Increasingly, we’re even looking at issues relating to the driver’s emotional state and what the implications around that might be for operating their vehicle.
The reason this is so important is because we are talking about an increasingly automated driving experience, so we are going to need to better understand when the car needs to take over or help the driver out.

Coming to another topic (or similar intro) Do you know why car manufacturers are not yet implementing telematic‐based solutions more widely, despite the legislation approving them?

In order to enable a lot of these solutions in the real world, the ideal way would be to have a connection to the car. But carmakers are still conflicted over this idea, because once you’ve connected a car the implications are quite significant and substantial. In terms of telematics, we’re talking primarily about using connections in the car to avoid crashes, and that’s a completely different value proposition from what we’d call infotainment — information and entertainment. However, carmakers in Europe are now looking at putting two SIM devices in the car, one for infotainment applications and the other for telematics and safety.

Recent European eCall legislation [mandating systems in new vehicles that can make automated emergency calls and send car crash data] was motivated by the best of intentions. But the reality is that we still need much more robust connectivity in the car, with more sophisticated applications being developed around them.

There’s also the question of standards, allowing cars to communicate with other to navigate efficiently and reduce collisions. Currently, there are different standards and frequencies between the US, Europe and Japan for how vehicles communicate with each other and with local infrastructure. Regulators have pushed a lot of the movement in the space, and there is a shift in gear in innovation from telematics firms, wireless carriers and auto makers.

People talk about the connected car as a smartphone on wheels, but actually it’s a completely different experience

How important is security with regard to vehicle‐to‐vehicle and vehicle‐to‐city communications?

In the world that we’re moving into, of connected cars and smart cities, cybersecurity is a critical aspect of the connected car value proposition. As an industry we’ve been whistling past the graveyard for a while. As soon as we put self‐parking technology in cars, we’re enabling a remote‐control proposition, and if that system were to be compromised then that’s very serious and significant. So cybersecurity is critical, and having layers of cybersecurity is critical.

Certainly, the network operating system must be secure, the SIM has to be secure, the network in the vehicle has to be secure and the engine control units (ECUs) must be secure. Cybersecurity is now a C‐level responsibility, and so it’s absolutely in the conversation — even though, as a whole, I would say the industry is still getting to grips with what it really means in totality. Until this is reached, it will be difficult to achieve certification however this is the only way to make the overall system secure. Getting to this point will be a long journey — the industry probably recognizes that the cars will never be certifiably secure, and that it’s a best effort, state of the art expectation on them.

How do you see technology developing in terms of monetizing the connected car experience?

The opportunities are industry‐transforming. Probably the two key areas are vehicle‐based payments — a sort of wallet on wheels — and the ability to add chargeable features and functions.
Adding features and functions to the car doesn’t sound that new when you consider companies like Tesla, but it’s a revolutionary concept that the car can add value after it leaves the dealer lot. Carmakers are putting the groundwork in place, and it means having sensors that could have features and functions added to them later. It also means extra data storage as well as the capability for software updates.

In addition we’re looking at the car as kind of a mobility platform, and it may or may not be owned by the consumer. In that scenario, you would want technology that is able to facilitate transactions in a simple manner — and carmakers are working on this, along with their suppliers. This certainly matters for paying for the updates, or for buying parking or timed access to the vehicle.

A related idea put to me recently, and that I think we’ll hear more about, is ‘sponsored mobility’. It’s the idea that maybe a shopping mall is sending you a car to pick you up and bring you there or someplace else. That’s essentially a sponsored transportation service, in the same way as we already have sponsored wireless. Trying to find ways to monetize the connected car experience is a key focus for the future but so too is delivering a secure, robust commerce platform so that you have greater flexibility to share the car or to ride hail. The potential is clearly enormous and there’s an exciting road ahead.


Mr Lanctot of Strategy Analytics was interviewed in February 2019 at Mobile World Congress Barcelona, and this is an edited cut of the Q&A.

Find out more on how G+D Mobile Security connects, secures and authenticates drivers and vehicles here.

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