Connectivity has become one of the most important aspects of the automotive industry withing the past couple of years. Automakers are more focused on connectivity, autonomy and technology than ever before and even more so than on more traditional aspects of the car, you know, like driving it. So the need for new connected technology like 5G has grown significantly and with it, the need to hack protection.

A few months back, we saw a demonstration by a few hackers who were able to remotely hack into a Jeep Cherokee’s infotainment system and take control of it. It was pretty frightening for the person driving the Jeep and they knew what was going to happen. So imagine having your car remotely hacked and controlled while you’re driving. Pretty scary stuff. To prevent this, BMW has done extensive work to create systems that are extremely difficult to breach. The Bavarian brand has even hired people to try and hack its systems, to see if they could and what sort of flaws there might have been.

Christoph Grote, BMW’s Senior Vice President of Electronics, recently say down with Automotive News Europe to discuss these sorts of things. When asked about how hacking has effected the current automotive world, Grote claimed that theft prevention and safety are not new concepts” We have been exposed to a similar threat in the form of car theft for a long time. In that sense we have a technical history of preventing car theft and preventing people from starting our cars without a key.” But remote hacking is a very new concept and one that Grote and BMW take very seriously. “However, the threat of manipulating the car has definitely increased. We’ve made efforts for quite a while to test if someone can penetrate our cars. We’ve hired talent not just to build systems that are as resilient as possible to hacking, but also people who are good at it in order to test ourselves.”

Hacking can be a scary thing because it can happen remotely, from anywhere, without warning. So the idea of highly connected cars is a frightening one for most people. But Grote feels that customers shouldn’t be worried “With respect to BMW, I am very positive that we have the right competencies within the company to defeat them.” However, he does admit that preventing hacker is something that will never stop and will need constant work. “But the truth of hacking is that you are never done. It’s not a situation where we can ever say we know we are safe forever.”

This sort of hack prevention is necessary because of how connected all cars are becoming. So much so, in fact, that BMW is now starting to face new competition, even from tech companies. Companies like Apple and Google now pose threats to BMW and its advanced software technology. But Grote doesn’t see that as a problem, as BMW has been in this game for a long time. ” The first big wave for connected cars started in the mid-1990s but just before it was about to happen a lot of people got nervous and withdrew.” Claiming that BMW was one of the first and only car companies to start working on connectivity. “There were a few automakers that pulled it off, basically three including BMW, and we stuck with it and gradually ramped up our penetration to what is now about 90 percent of our cars being connected. We’ve been building functionality on the infotainment and safety sides since.”


BMW will also start toying with new 5G connected technology, for a variety of new tech. But one of the main reasons for utilizing 5G is for autonomous driving. Grote claims that 5G connectivity will be used for more serious things in the future, as opposed to just entertainment services. ” For example, automated driving will require the car to be entirely safe even without a mobile connection. On the other hand, a lot of the services that 5G can enable will help make that a really good product. Automated cars will move based on maps and sensors, relating what they see to what’s in the map. Updating that map is going to be something done through mobile connections.”

And 5G connectivity will allow for a far better connection that WiFi in the future, for concepts like the Internet of Things. If you want to have multiple devices connected to one network and have them all work seamlessly, 5G is better than WiFi and will allow for a more stable, low-latency connection.

So BMW is running head first into the connected future of the automobile and is investing a ton of both money and resources into making sure it’s as stable and secure as possible. Even from those damn pesky hackers.

[Source: Automotive News Europe]