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Automotive Cybersecurity: New Penetration Testing Requirements for IATF


New automotive cybersecurity penetration testing standards have recently been added to the International Automotive Task Force's (IATF) 16949 certification requirements.

These new requirements will impact both automotive manufacturers that already have the certification and even those that do not have the certification. Those manufacturers that do not have the certification miss out largely on being able to market and showcase to prospects that they are adhering to the highest standards of production needed to meet the quality expectations of the automotive industry. Having an IATF certification now means that an organization conducts regularly scheduled penetration tests to strengthen its automotive cybersecurity. The new IATF penetration testing requirement can support purchasing decisions and help manufacturers gain a competitive advantage.

Both organizations and consumers are becoming more cybersecurity conscientious. Security measures are becoming a primary component of both the consumer and B2B decision-making process.

How Does IATF Certification Benefit Your Company?

Many automotive companies have realized the cost-effectiveness and market credibility that results from IATF 16949 certification. The notable benefits include:

  1. Enhanced credibility: An IATF certification demonstrates the company’s ability to provide quality products and strong automotive cybersecurity

  2. Enhanced productivity: When employees strive to attain the highest standards, it translates into enhanced productivity and better product output.

  3. Improved customer satisfaction: IATF guidelines stipulate strategic planning to meet customer expectations. This often leads to customer retention.

  4. Better decision-making: IATF encourages evidence-based decision-making, leading to higher efficiency.

IATF Certification Penetration Testing:

IATF 16949 has 18 requirements for certification eligibility. The new guidelines hinge on the necessity of regular penetration testing and vulnerability assessments. These are not only focused on automotive cybersecurity for the corporate office but also on the auto manufacturing systems. Three kinds of tests must be conducted to find vulnerabilities and security posture: Enterprise, IoT, and Manufacturing.

When it comes to automotive cybersecurity, it is best to come up with a strategy that also focuses on your company's level of cybersecurity maturity. Outsourcing your regular pentesting has its benefits in that you are getting an unbiased report of your systems and infrastructure, as well as working with penetration testers who specialize in identifying vulnerabilities and gaps. Be sure to select a penetration testing provider whose ethical hackers are OSCP and OSCE certified. Because IATF specifies an ISO 27001 approach, it is best to find a cybersecurity firm that specializes in ISO 27001- IT security and examines all external and internal dangers.

Why is Automotive Cybersecurity Important?

According to Upstream’s 2021 Global Automotive Cybersecurity report, the year 2020 saw a 73% uptick in server attacks, with 77.8% of them being remote. In 2020, two researchers hacked into a Tesla without any user interaction, demonstrating the risks of a weak automotive security system. The researchers opened and closed the doors of the car without any user activity. 

Vehicles are now equipped with dozens of computers, and they are not just for navigation and entertainment. Computers manage and control nearly every system on the vehicle, including steering and brakes. A sound and secure automotive software is a vital cog in computer-controlled vehicles. A weak security system renders automotive software susceptible to hacking. An attacker can easily break into the system and gain access to the data on your car’s security system. They can even force your vehicle to disobey you, leading to catastrophic results.

Another example of a security breach was the cyberattack through unauthorized access by a third party in 2021 in an engine manufactured by a Toyota-owned company. This example also shows that automotive cybersecurity must be a key consideration while designing automotive software. Neglecting automotive cybersecurity can have severe ramifications, such as: 

Loss of consumer trust 

Loss of reputation 

Loss of vehicles

Fines and charges due to non-compliance

Extra charges due to urgent security policies

Automotive cybersecurity can help you protect vehicles from malicious break-ins by:

Identifying and mitigating software vulnerabilities

Encrypting data to protect privacy

Blocking communication from unauthorized users

Building a safe firewall 

Four Steps to Ensure the Safety of Automotive Software

A secure automotive software is not only crucial to protect user data and privacy but also their lives. Following the below-mentioned practices can help the manufacturers to fortify their automotive software:

Following the latest automotive cybersecurity regulations 

Constantly updating yourself on the latest rules and regulations about cybersecurity can help you stay ahead of the curve. This is necessary as various government bodies constantly revisit the cybersecurity requirements.

Trying out fuzz testing

Fuzz testing is a technique of randomly incorporating malicious and unexpected inputs into a system’s software to look for vulnerabilities and defects. It can provide a clear picture of the software’s ability to protect your automobile. 

Testing the automotive software

Integrated testing of automotive security must occur with software development and car production. In this way, it’s easier to detect vulnerabilities during the production stage and fix any glitches.

Carrying out penetration testing 

Penetration testing or application security testing for automotive software will simulate an attack to identify vulnerabilities and assess the potential damage a breach could cause. The information gathered after a penetration test can help fine-tune your automotive cybersecurity software and strategies for strengthening your security posture. 

Final word

More and more manufacturers are considering investing in automotive cybersecurity solutions to become IATF certified. This way, they can ensure that the automotive software they offer is safe and reliable and market the safety of their products. 

Packetlabs supports the security of automotive software by performing a comprehensive penetration test that will help you become IATF certified. Contact us today to find out how we can help strengthen your organization's automotive cybersecurity.