Students in Dispatch Courses, Here’s Why Cybersecurity Is a Top Concern for Autonomous Trucks

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Autonomous technology has the potential to revolutionize the transport and logistics sector over the next decade. Recent advances in self-driving features help prevent accidents with collision avoidance features, and new technology could even allow several trucks to platoon together on the road to increase fuel efficiency.

While these features could well make dispatching shipments even more efficient, that convenience could come at an alarming cost. As autonomous technology in the trucking industry becomes more widely used, many experts fear that trucks could become susceptible to cyber attacks.

Keep reading to find out about the cybersecruity risks facing the trucking industry, and what this could mean for future careers in dispatching.

The Cybersecurity Dangers in Trucks Explained for Students in Dispatch Courses

One of the main reasons for the growing fears around cybersecurity in trucks is that their operating systems are not currently very well protected. All commercial rigs use an open, interconnected system known as SAE J1939, which allows them to communicate with other vehicles that use the same system.

While the openness of this technology makes it more efficient and versatile, it also makes it easier for hackers to access. Researchers at the University of Michigan demonstrated how a hacker could increase a truck’s acceleration, slow it down, and even disable its brakes using just a laptop.

In addition, dispatch professionals also need to be aware of the cybersecurity risks of other connected components in trucks, such as telematics and onboard entertainment systems. Even drivers connecting their own devices can create problems, increasing the potential for viral attacks on the truck’s systems.

Why Trucks Are Such a Huge Target for Cyber Attacks

During your dispatch course, you will learn just how valuable the transport and logistics sector is. Trucks transport thousands of dollars worth of cargo every day, and delayed or missed deliveries can cost vendors, suppliers, and retailers a fortune. Unfortunately, the value of this cargo and the business attached to it also makes trucks a prime target for cyber criminals.

For instance, a hacker could take control of the system of a particular truck on the road and stop the vehicle, then demand a ransom in order to release it. Since both the trucking company and the owners of the goods would stand to lose a lot of money if their delivery is stopped, they may be more likely to give in to the hacker’s demands.

It may also be possible to take over a self-driving truck’s GPS and change its course completely, as researchers at the University of Texas-Austin did with a yacht in 2013. This possibility has led to fears that trucks could be commandeered for attacks, as their size gives them the potential to cause more damage than regular-sized vehicles.

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Both the value and size of trucks make them a target for cyber attacks

What Is Being Done to Improve Truck Cybersecurity?

Thankfully, there have been no major incidents of vehicle hacking involving trucks as of yet. Most breaches that have occurred have been done in controlled circumstances by ‘white hat’ hackers, who have been tasked with identifying possible risks in order to improve security.

Cybersecurity experts also believe that many of the risks present in existing autonomous truck technology could be drastically reduced by introducing relatively simple measures, such as encrypting software and creating firewalls around more critical systems.

While ensuring that autonomous systems are secure will ultimately be the job of manufacturers and cybersecurity experts, it is still important for students at dispatcher schools to understand the risks involved, and help ensure that trucks stay safe for everyone.

Want the most up-to-date training for the transport and logistics industry?

Contact Automotive Training Centres to learn more about our dispatching program in Toronto.

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