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V2V Communications: What About My Privacy?

Posted by Gene Carter on Mar 31, 2017 3:42:57 PM
There is a shift in focus from surviving accidents to stopping an accident from ever happening. Have you ever experienced unexpected stopped traffic as you crest a hill? Or narrowly missed hitting another car because your view was blocked by truck in a turn lane? While today’s vehicles are already employing technologies to improve situational awareness, they are limited to line of sight. There wasn’t a way for your vehicle to communicate with other vehicles and notify you. This is where Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication comes in.

Constant Dialogue Has Benefits

V2V technology broadcasts Basic Safety Messages (BSM) -- a vehicle’s location, speed, direction, and other information -- to other vehicles or infrastructure 10 times per second. A constant dialogue between vehicles has the potential to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. However, this technology only works if a large proportion of vehicles on the road are transmitting BSMs. The U.S. government is in the process of mandating V2V technology in all cars sold here, so we expect critical mass can be achieved within the next ten years, or much sooner if aftermarket devices are available for existing vehicles. V2V technology has the opportunity to prevent 80 percent of accidents and when widely deployed is estimated to save thousands of lives in the United States.

Privacy Protection is a Concern

The future of V2V communication is moving forward and delivers many benefits to drivers. There are consumers who are worried that their movements will be tracked by the government and others by using the V2V technology that is constantly transmitting their location to everyone within 500 yards. There also is the fear that traffic citations will be issued automatically by monitoring V2V transmissions. The automotive industry understands that the public will not accept V2V systems without an assurance of privacy.

Industry Addresses Privacy Concerns

The automotive industry and government officials (NHTSA) are aware of these understandable concerns and are collaborating to help mitigate any privacy risks that may arise with V2V technology. This industry-government partnership has yielded a complex system to address privacy. Here’s a simple breakdown of how it works. The core of the system relies on an architecture that anonymizes the BSMs transmitted between vehicles in a way that makes it very difficult for any person or entity to uncover the identity of a driver. To make this a reality, the new system is will leverage the largest and most comprehensive Security Credential Management System (SCMS) ever built. The basic concept is similar to the structure used by the Internet but with extensions and structural elements designed specifically for anonymizing moving vehicles. The SCMS ensures that each vehicle has at least 20 certificates available to sign the BSMs each week. The on-board V2V equipment in each vehicle is responsible for randomizing these certificates throughout the week, making it hard for an individual vehicle to be tracked over an extended distance. Any vehicle that suffers from malfunctioning equipment or that has been compromised will be removed from the system until trust can be restored. In a recent Telematics Wire article, I described in more detail the steps taken to protect privacy in a V2V system.

Cybersecurity is another concern that consumers voice about V2V communications. While no system is ever completely impenetrable, the V2V systems has been design from the ground up with security as a priority, which makes it much more difficult to exploit. Hackers will most likely attack weaker connected systems within a car rather than the V2V communications channel. Unfortunately, the lack of security in a vehicle means that there is no shortage of easier options for hackers to find their way into a car’s system. In a recent Automotive Cybersecurity Study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, only 54 percent of industry insiders surveyed believe that security is a priority for their company.

To be successful, the automakers, their suppliers and the government must work together to address cybersecurity and privacy issues in order to put consumers’ minds to rest.

Originally posted on November 23, 2016 on https://blog.securityinnovation.com 

Topics: Automotive, Privacy, Internet of Things, V2X, Embedded Security

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