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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amidst legislative stalling, a consortium of twelve manufacturers has developed a framework for automotive cybersecurity best practices.

The big picture: At first glance, their guidelines hit the right points — incorporating security into design, developing risk assessment and incident response strategies — but current security solutions are not sufficient against increasingly sophisticated threats.

Background: The Self-Drive Act, a bill that didn't make it through Congress, required “manufacturers of highly automated vehicles to develop written cybersecurity and privacy plans for such vehicles prior to offering them for sale.”

  • However, it fell short of prescribing specific guidelines for how security systems will ensure those objectives.
  • In developing their own safety and cybersecurity guidelines, automakers were trying to keep drivers and passengers safe — and also aiming to satisfy regulators who, in the absence of industry action or input, could impose rules that may be less favorable to companies.

What's happening: Today, most security solutions rely on rules, logic and signatures to detect threats, but this means they can only detect known threats. Contemporary security systems essentially do the bare minimum to comply with security guidances.

  • This is one reason current security measures are not the best place to start in designing a framework. Any time hackers develop new viruses or malware, cybersecurity programs play catch-up.

What's needed: To go beyond compliance and prevent hackers before they compromise security measures, manufacturers need to develop systems that will enable them to meet these still-unknown threats.

  • Examination of vehicle system behavior anomalies could be a solution. If a hacker tries to install malware into a vehicle's ECU, the system would detect activity in the ECU that should not be taking place.
  • In another scenario, if a vehicle's ECU is acting in an irregular manner, that could mean that malware is present. The system could be programmed to block vehicle operations until the threat is addressed, preventing the malware from acting.

The bottom line: Cyber threats are increasing as more vehicles become connected, and as connected vehicles become more sophisticated. Current solutions are not advanced enough to satisfy the spirit of even the strictest security and privacy guidelines. Updating the solutions and frameworks should go hand in hand.

Yossi Vardi is the CEO of SafeRide Technologies, an automotive cybersecurity startup.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

6 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

11 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

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