Russian security vendor Kaspersky is eyeing up UK and European car manufacturers as it looks to establish itself as the go-to company when it comes to securing car factories and connected cars.
The vendor claims that the automotive industry, like others, is experiencing an increasing number of cyber attacks from hackers that want to steal sensitive customer and corporate information, including intellectual property, wide considered to be the secret sauce of many car companies. With connected vehicles set to hit public roads in coming years, the vendor also claims that hackers will be able to take control of people’s cars if automotive firms don’t install the appropriate protection.
Kaspersky, named after its founder Eugene Kaspersky, claims to be in talks with every large automotive company in the world but it’s unable to reveal specific names for (you guessed it) security reasons.
“We’ve had a few chats with vendors here in the UK and we’re waiting for the next developments,” said Alexander Moiseev, managing director of Europe at Kaspersky Lab. “If we go to speak to car companies the reaction will be 'can you close the door please' and we’ll continue. They’re aware [of the cyber threat] but they don’t know about the problems we show them or how to solve them.”
Kaspersky claims it isn't looking for a quick win from new customers in the automotive industry. Instead, it wants to play the long game and get them onside early by giving them free access to its technology.
“This isn’t about customers,” said Moiseev. “We’re pushing them to become partners, which is different. We want them to join a collaborative venture. We’ve developed a tool which we’ve presented now to all the car companies which will allow us to understand the existing and the evolving vulnerabilities and allow us to predict new threats.
“There’s no money. We’re just speaking about technical cooperation, it’s not about selling anything. It’s more about education. We’re ready to share our technology and to learn. The more vendors that join the venture, the faster we will agree on the common standards.”
Moiseev said every car company he’s presented this tool to has adopted it. “No one has refused yet,” he said. “There is no reason to refuse. If we say you're going to create cars with no windshield they can’t say no to me.”
Garry Kondakov, chief business officer at Kaspersky Lab, added that the work being done with car giants now will probably prove fruitful for Kaspersky later on but now now. "We do not think about the quick money,” he said.
One profitable partnership that Kaspersky is willing to talk about is the one it holds with Italian supercar company Ferrari.
Since 2012, Kaspersky has had its logo featured prominently on the company’s Formula One cars but there's more to it than that.
But now Kaspersky is helping Ferrari engineers both in factorites and on the racetrack to secure the work they do.
Kaspersky has helped Ferrari to update its systems, some of which may have been built decades ago, when the threat landscape was completely different.
This is critical because many Ferraris shipped today come with inbuilt computers that need to be secured to ensure the passenger's safety.
The vendor also provides one of its own employees to Ferrari during certain race weekends.