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Exposed Heard Hacked Handled Empowered

To defeat a hacker, start by thinking like one.

“Imagine you are going 120 kph in wintertime, the windshield washer fluid starts spraying and the wipers don’t work because of a security breach? That’s the kind of scenario we have to prevent”, says Deloitte’s Peter Wirnsperger, Partner, Deloitte Germany explaining how hackers could conceivably breach a car’s technology system through a driver’s connected smart phone.

Down in a dark basement in Germany, a team of whitehat hackers were hard at work. They had spent weeks trying to find weaknesses in technically advanced automobiles.

It’s no surprise that criminals are constantly searching for ways to break through the world’s cyber defenses. And now, as cars become more computerised and connected, hackers have set their sights on finding new ways to steal or control vehicles remotely.

Thankfully, this “hacking” team was on the good side: Cyber technology and risk assessment professionals from Deloitte, working together with some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), not only identified the cyber protections needed for new models, but also changed the game on how the company would tackle automotive security in the future.

“In Germany we don’t have two different words for ‘safety’ and ‘security.’ Our word ‘Sicherheit’ includes both meanings.”

Today’s cars have on average more than 100 on-board computers controlling key functions such as brakes, seatbelts and warning systems; but as technology becomes more complex and the industry moves towards autonomous vehicles, the need for impregnable cybersecurity grows. Simply put, every new technological advance brings with it a whole new generation of cyber attackers.

The long stretches spent in the secret basement space allowed Deloitte and the customer teams to find potential weaknesses in the vehicle’s security system and to develop state-of-the art software defenses. And the involvement of risk advisory and strategy specialists broadened the project into one in which the client’s entire new vehicle development process was reimagined to put security at the core—from the first design sketches to the production floor.

With human insight, technological innovation, and comprehensive solutions, Deloitte Cyber is helping clients build smarter, faster, more connected futures. Deloitte Cyber advises, implements and operates a comprehensive portfolio of cyber solutions and services to suit clients’ current industry sector requirements and enterprise-wide needs to anticipate and prepare for the cyber risks of the future.

For the three-year engagement, Deloitte teams from across Europe came together to deliver the integrated approach that transformed how the whole industry looks at the issue of security, with lasting impact for the most important stakeholder of all—its customers.

“In Germany we don’t have two different words for ‘safety’ and ‘security.’ Our word ‘Sicherheit’ includes both meanings,” says Wirnsperger. “In life as well as in cars, you cannot have safety without security— they have to be integrated. Deloitte has truly helped the customer shape its vision of keeping the roads safer for current and future generations of drivers.”

Building on the success, Deloitte is working on similar security projects for several other major car manufacturers in Europe and Asia.

People who made this possible

Emily Mossburg

Principal | Global Cyber Leader & US Cyber Strategic Growth Offering Leader