Upstream Devoted to Truck Cybersecurity Threats

Upstream is focused on solutions that secure vehicles on the road today with the ability to add layers of protection as trucks become more secure in the future. (All images: Upstream)

According to Gartner, Inc, a leading research and advisory company, the number of connected vehicles on the road is expected to reach 250 million by 2020. The heavy-duty industry has seen connectivity grow inside the truck with fleet monitoring telematics, real-time navigation, and electronic logging devices (ELDs). However, questions continue to remain over the security of these new technologies and the vulnerabilities created on these vehicles. Upstream Security has developed a cloud-based cybersecurity platform to address truck security immediately.

“There are 100 million vehicles on the road today with some level of connectivity,” Jeff Lebowitz, VP of Market Development at Upstream, told Truck and Off-Highway Engineering. “So, to me, the biggest need in the industry is acceptance and understanding of the risk today, how it’s going to dramatically increase in two years when there’s 200 million vehicles connected, and what does that really mean?”

Upstream Security has a cloud-based platform for vehicle cybersecurity to protect vehicles on the roads today.

Manufacturers and fleet operators recognize the risk that is inherent to having connected trucks transmitting navigation, powertrain, and other pertinent information between the vehicle and specified networks. Some companies have approached the security of the vehicle with physical devices on the truck that act like local firewalls such as what personal computers use. However, these devices are still being developed to the level that is required to fully secure vehicles.

Upstream is leveraging its cloud-based platform to protect trucks now. The system is referred to as Upstream Security C4 (Centralized Connected Car Cybersecurity) Platform and was purpose-built to handle the big data developed by connected trucks, including telematics, mobile data, over-the-air updates, and other data generators. The platform combines four cybersecurity engines working in unison to analyze communications from the protocol level up: protocol security, transactional security, contextual security, and behavioral security.

Since there is no hardware or software on the vehicle, Upstream can monitor communications between data centers and fleets to detect, interpret, and alert them in real-time. The company also plans to implement a layered protection approach to vehicle cybersecurity once those devices finally make their way into production trucks.

Upstream acknowledges that the trucking industry is trying to take steps to mitigate these security issues.

“The most advanced organization is the American Trucking Associations, where they have raised awareness on cyber concerns better than any other organization that I have seen,” Lebowitz said. “In between, you have the telematics service providers who understand that if their servers get hit and there’s a lockdown, that is enormous damage to them. So, I think that is another layer where there are people focused on security.”

Cyber talent in short supply

Jeff Lebowitz, VP of Market Development at Upstream, sees security as a growing need as the number of connected vehicles on the road grows to over 200 million in a couple of years.

One leading issue that remains for companies addressing security on any level is the quantity of talent available. Upstream expressed concern that there is not enough competition in companies focused on vehicle cybersecurity. As manufacturers, suppliers, and technology developers alike look to build security teams, this cyber field remains a burgeoning area. The lack of available experts and talent can be attributed to demand outside of the commercial-vehicle and automotive industries.

“I think we are experiencing a change in technology trends across many industries around the globe,” Reid Wilk, PwC Principal, told Truck and Off-Highway Engineering. “I think that has a bigger impact on the talent pool for automotive than anything happening within [the industry]. There is a shortage of engineers with specific types of capabilities across industries on a global basis. The automotive industry has to compete for those engineers against every other industry.”

With the lack of available cybersecurity-specific engineers and experts available, the trucking and automotive industries will need to rely on its current talent pool to address the growing number of connected vehicles on the road. Upstream believes it can protect vehicles today with its cloud-based cyber platform as well as in the future as trucks continue to get more secure. While the trucking industry has realized this potential threat, mitigating actions will need to be taken soon by those who can.