Tires, wipers and oil changes are the most commonly sold aftermarket products, but the comforts of mobile technology and the latest OEM accessories such as infotainment systems, remote key entry or RKE, smartphone integration and more spur demand for the installation of similar systems in cars already on the road.
But even without upgrading to the latest gadgets, old cars are more connected than you think. Carburetors were phased out of cars in the 1980s and were replaced by fuel injection systems that use microprocessors called electronic control units (ECUs) that precisely control the fuel-air mix. In addition to fuel injection, ECUs are also used for engine and transmission control, climate control, anti-lock braking, park assist and more. And they are all connected to an automotive computer called the Controller Area Network (CAN). Older cars may have up to a dozen ECUs “talking” to one another while a new vehicle may have 150 or more ECUs, the equivalent of 20 personal computers, transmitting more than 25 gigabytes of data an hour.
All of these ECUs ensure your car runs at optimum performance and enables mechanics to perform proactive maintenance that helps extend the life of your car. Gone are the days when a garage owner would examine a car for hours or days looking for a problem. The reason? A connection that looks like a computer port located underneath the dashboard near your steering wheel. Actually, it is a computer port that was especially designed for cars. It’s called an On-Board Diagnostics (OBDII) Port or “OBD port” for short. It’s a veritable data highway to your car’s computer and gives mechanics easy access to all of your car’s various subsystems. But just like a mechanic can use the OBD port for accessing all of your car’s subsystems, so can less scrupulous people as well(!). All it takes is ordering some equipment online and a little tech savvy gleaned from one of the “DIY for Hacker” sites such as Wikihow website.
In other words, your car includes a set of computers, just like your laptop and smartphone. And its connectivity offers similar risks of cyber-attack: viruses, ransomware, distributed DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks and even connected car hijacking—although not yet at the level portrayed in the movie “The Fate of the Furious.” Over the last few years, white-hat hackers have shown that the cyber threat to consumer and commercial vehicles is very real. Wired magazine offers a detailed account of white hackers taking control of a Jeep on a highway. Although Fiat Chrysler quickly worked to mitigate the risk, OEMs and vendors of these electronic automotive systems are only just beginning to develop the security-conscious culture that has existed in the computer and smartphone world for many years.
Each new challenge brings a new opportunity. Mitigating the risks of cyber-attacks on vehicles has created new aftermarket business opportunities for selling cybersecurity solutions. The GuardKnox aftermarket add-on platform serves as a gateway for external communication by wireless and wired interfaces The platform is available in a variety of applications and use cases in order to protect the driver. These range from, protecting commercial and heavy vehicles against any type of known and unknown cyber-attack, whether over-the-air, via USBs or even via the OBD II port to working with insurance carriers to offer tailor-made UBI (usage based insurance) value-added services, to empowering dealership branded applications with real-time and relevant data.
With a full software stack and a hardware architecture, the Aftermarket Add-On is certifiable to ISO 15408, or the Common Criteria Security Standard, and the ISO 26262 Safety Standard, as well as the upcoming ISO 21434 for Cybersecurity in road vehicles. This Add-On is an easy and seamless fit for all segments of the automotive aftermarket, including dealerships, fleet owners, Tier 1 manufacturers, consumer, and commercial vehicle OEMs, and manufacturers of heavy machinery.
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Selling the GuardKnox Aftermarket Add-On enables car dealerships to create a new line of aftermarket business selling warranties against car theft by electronic means. Sitting behind the OBD II port, the Aftermarket Add-On not only protects the car from electronic theft but also secures the car’s safety and handling systems and prevents breaches of personal data including phone records, travel logs, credit card information and more. GuardKnox Products can reduce costly automotive insurance, serving as a theft-prevention device like an immobilizer, and can also be sold as part of a warranty for electronic systems, such as infotainment and remote key entry, to make a vehicle a less vulnerable target for theft.
GuardKnox’s Aftermarket Add-On eases inventory headaches and improves the efficiency of inventory management and dealer operations by enabling employees to quickly and accurately find any vehicle no matter where it is—without fumbling through dozens or hundreds of keys. Having a comprehensive car dealership cybersecurity offering can also serve as a unique selling point that increases the brand value of your dealership, enables premium pricing based on your perceived value, and can reduce the influence of price in the customers’ decision-making and purchasing process.
Just as cyber-criminals can target a single car, they can also target an entire fleet of vehicles owned or leased by car rental companies, taxicab companies, public utilities, transportation companies, corporations, and governments. Since fleet owners are usually companies and organizations whose businesses are entirely dependent on the use of their vehicles, they are prime targets for ransomware attacks. Infecting dozens or hundreds of vehicles with malicious software, blocking vehicle usage, or even threatening the safety of drivers and passengers can be catastrophic to these businesses unless large ransoms are paid. The Aftermarket Add-On Platform’s deterministic Communication Lockdown™ methodology prevents any kind of ransomware attack from taking control of a vehicle as it only allows “legal” communication and blocks any improper commands,
GuardKnox offers a full end to end solution through the partnership and integration with Palo Alto Networks’ GlobalProtect™ Cloud Service which enables GuardKnox to protect vehicles when they are most vulnerable: during updates and direct external communication via the Internet, providing secure OTA updating of car software, command, and control engine tuning, and real-time fleet analytics. GuardKnox has also partnered with DXC Technology, a world leader in fleet management to create a unique end-to-end solution that protects fleets of cars from potentially hostile surroundings and provides vehicle-related and incident-related information to a Security Operation Center (SOC) that records all events and triggers alarms according to detected security incidents for quick response by professionals.
The longer lifetime of heavy machinery and the extreme conditions that require the frequent replacement of parts makes the aftermarket especially active in this segment. The Aftermarket Add On Platform can protect newly connected systems placed in older heavy equipment. While regulatory, technological and public perception challenges are slowing the adoption of self-driving cars, the challenges of construction sites and mines are accelerating the on-boarding of autonomous vehicles in this market.
For the connected and autonomous heavy machinery of today and tomorrow, GuardKnox’s Aftermarket Add-On platform delivers the required vehicle cybersecurity.
While many incorrectly believe that vehicle cybersecurity is a solution that is required by the autonomous vehicles of the future, it should now be clear that cybersecurity is a mandatory requirement yesterday. Cybersecurity is needed for just about any consumer, commercial, or heavy industrial vehicle on the road, whether it was produced this year, last year, or over the last decade.