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Utimaco’s ‘Circles Of Trust’ Study Shows Equal Enthusiasm And Trepidation Towards Next-generation Internet Connected Cars

  • Only 16% of consumers believe there are no advantages to connected vehicles

  • However, nearly half worry about threats of privacy and payment data

A new report by Utimaco, a leading global provider of IT security solutions, has shown that the general public in the UK, as well as Germany and Spain, are enthusiastic about the features in internet-connected vehicles (‘connected cars’), but a significant number have reservations about their security that vehicle makers need to work to address.

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Connected cars have existed since Cadillac’s 1996 DeVille, which had simple cellular connectivity to allow drivers to access roadside assistance. Since then, vehicles are increasingly being built with extensive connectivity, becoming Internet of Things (IoT) hubs with dozens of internet-enabled components, ranging from diagnostic modules that most drivers won’t interact with to entertainment systems and in-car WiFi. This provides a great deal of extra functionality, but could allow third parties to compromise a vehicle’s systems and steal data, blackmail drivers or even gain control of a vehicle’s steering.

The research, ‘Circles of Trust: How the UK Public Perceives Digital Risk‘, surveyed internet users across the UK, Germany and Spain to discover their attitudes towards security in the automotive sector, and also government and healthcare, as well as their general feelings about internet security. The answers to all questions told a similar story: respondents were generally enthusiastic about connected technology but worried about the potential security problems.

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The report breaks down the specific aspects of connected vehicles that respondents were enthusiastic about. 39% said that navigation and traffic news were a key draw, while 29% answered theft protection, 25% driver assistance and 24% parking assistance. It also found that 51% were worried that their movements could be tracked and 45% were worried that their stored payment data could be taken. Only 2% of respondents said that they believed that there were no potential problems with connected vehicles.

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As with other aspects of our increasingly connected society, the report identifies that vehicle manufacturers and security providers need to work to educate their customers about the security systems in their vehicles and to improve those systems to the point that high-profile ‘hacks’ are less of an issue.

“We are extremely proud to be able to show companies in the automotive industry hard data about how their customers feel about the connected technology that is increasingly common in even the most basic vehicles,” says Ansgar Steden, Chief Revenue Officer at Utimaco. “We see that they are enthusiastic, but they still have concerns, despite a lack of high-profile cases of vehicle cybersecurity being breached. This shows that manufacturers need to better communicate the safety credentials of their vehicles and to work with companies like Utimaco to make sure that this security is able to withstand current and future threats.”

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