fleetdigest October 2016
The 2016 October issue of fleetdigest is now available online. You can flip through it here, but first, a few words from the Associate Publisher of fleetdigest, Jack Kazmierski.
How safe is your fleet from a hacker attack?
NAFA Fleet Management Association recently hosted a webinar where they sounded the alarm about the dangers all fleets face as vehicles become more connected and computerized.
I think NAFA CEO Phillip E. Russo summed it up nicely when he said, “Cars and trucks today are more like ’computers on wheels,’ as they rely more on technology for performance and convenience than ever before. For fleet professionals, the rapid growth of vehicle connectivity presents challenges, as well as opportunities. For all drivers, the way North American roadways— and indeed, global roadways—function will be drastically different sooner than anyone imagines. This is a conversation that NAFA has a duty to be part of.”
To that end, NAFA released a whitepaper, “Fleet Management and the Connected Vehicle,” which can be downloaded on their website, nafa.org.
The point NAFA is making, and it’s one all fleet managers need to consider carefully, is that the growing use of digital tools, the increase in connectivity, the Internet-of-things, and the fact that our vehicles are communicating with a growing number of external devices creates a vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers in one way or another.
At one time we used to worry about hackers getting into our desktop and laptop computers. Now we have to worry about them getting into our vehicles and accessing data that we want to keep confidential, as well as taking over control of the vehicle itself.
NAFA’s whitepaper offers fleet professionals insight into how hackers can exploit technologies and how vehicles can be compromised. In short, they can get in through electronic control units, which control numerous functions including the throttle, brakes and steering systems. Wireless communication is also a concern. Think about amenities like keyless entry, TPMS, entertainment systems and GPS technologies. The whitepaper also talks about telematics, as well as On-Board Diagnostic (OBD II) Ports, all of which can be exploited by hackers.
In a perfect world, fleet managers would want to eliminate these vulnerabilities. In the real world, however, that’s not possible, nor is it desirable. The fact is all these technologies make us more productive and keep drivers safe.
The solutions, suggests NAFA, is to stay on top of these technologies and to put policies in place to minimize risk. The whitepaper offers practical advice, but you can rest assured this isn’t the end of the conversation.
As new technologies emerge and as they’re incorporated into tomorrow’s vehicles, they’ll create new risks that the fleet managers of tomorrow will have to deal with when the time comes. For now, we can stay on top of things and hope for the best.