Michigan looks to set cybersecurity pace
As the world becomes increasingly connected through advancements in technology, ensuring the security of automobiles, drones, and electronic devices is a top priority.
Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool that’s being used to improve nearly every industry. From digital farming tools used to help growers optimize and sustain their crops, to driverless shuttles that aim to improve mobility in business districts and congested neighborhoods, AI technology is rapidly transforming business models across the globe.
Although the industries may be different, the goal remains the same: to use machine learning to create efficiencies and improve operations to produce safer, more effective products for consumers.
If the end game is increased safety, cybersecurity needs to be a large part of the conversation.
Combating the perils of connected convenience
We’re increasingly seeing how artificial intelligence is being integrated into our personal lives. Take for instance Amazon’s Alexa. Not only is it able to respond to our commands, it also uses interactive learning to adjust to new inputs and can even anticipate our needs to easily perform human-like tasks.
This technology definitely makes life easier, but just how safe is it from a data-breaching standpoint?
These same questions are looming in the autonomous vehicle (AV) sector.
In 2018, the excitement continued for autonomous vehicles. However, as the year played out with several incidents making the news, many of the big players in driverless car development pressed pause to evaluate algorithms, systems, and hardware.
They also posed the question of whether cyberattacks play a role in the dysfunction of AV technology.
There is more data in vehicles than ever before. With sensors connecting driverless vehicles to a city’s infrastructure, cameras to navigate reverse-driving, built-in microphones and more, some worry the same technology that was created to mitigate safety risks could actually pose a threat.
Who owns the data that’s being collected on a daily basis in our vehicles? And where exactly is it being stored? Does a virtual cloud exist for every single vehicle on the road? And if so, is that cloud secure?
These are questions consuming cyber sectors.
As automakers have risen to the challenge to meet consumer demand for improved mobility and accessibility through driverless vehicles, mobile connectivity runs an inherent risk on privacy and safety.
At least 1.4 million vehicles have been impacted by cybersecurity-related recalls since 2015. As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regularly collaborates with other government agencies, vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and the public to further industry efforts in addressing vehicle cybersecurity challenges.
The business case for cybersecurity
Top of mind for every state’s chief information officer (CIO) is cybersecurity and developing proactive strategies to prevent cyberattacks. According to a national 2018 Deloitte study on cybersecurity, at least one state reported an average of 300 million attacks per day.
To address this very pressing need proactively, Michigan launched the Cybersecurity Initiative in 2011, the world’s first comprehensive state-level approach to cybersecurity. This program has effectively improved the state’s cybersecurity defenses and fosters rapidly growing talent and business environments.
Michigan now ranks third for cybersecurity growth potential and has experienced a 17 percent growth in occupations, like computer science and web development, that are core to the IT and cybersecurity industry over the past five years.
As the center of the automotive industry, leaders across the state quickly realized Michigan’s ecosystem had to evolve to lead the world into the future of mobility. This couldn’t be achieved without prioritizing cybersecurity as the umbrella that intersects all industries.
Creating cybersecurity ecosystems
Effective cybersecurity requires collaboration with state agencies, the current workforce, and higher education as security and risk management are the number one priority for both state and local CIOs. As we combat these challenges, the main crisis is talent acquisition in the cybersecurity space.
Michigan has developed communities focused on connecting more people, educational institutions, employers, and local governments to develop cybersecurity ecosystems, working to differentiate itself in the area of platform cybersecurity. It is home to the SAE CyberAuto and CyberTruck Challenges, as well as new programs addressing industry needs like Wayne State University’s certificate program in cyber-physical systems.
As of 2016, there were nearly 140,000 people working in the IT and cybersecurity realm in Michigan, more than half of whom are in the Detroit region. Companies offering IT and cybersecurity services have roughly 20,000 sites throughout Michigan.
After the launch of the Michigan Cybersecurity Initiative, the state unveiled unclassified cyber range hubs where talent could be trained, technology could be tested and deployed, and cyber safety solutions could be realized. The goal is to help develop talent in Michigan, as well as build a framework that can be implemented in other states across the country.
This became the Michigan Cyber Range run by Merit Network, which provides students and IT professionals with a foundation through hands-on coursework, exercises, and labs plus more than 40 professional certifications. While network cybersecurity has been around for a long time, an industry focus on the security of cyber-physical systems is a new and emerging market.
We need input from experts on what their needs are so that we can train up-and-coming talent and prepare the existing workforce to meet the cybersecurity industry’s growing needs. Cybersecurity should be considered the industry’s newest safety feature. A good plan requires a proactive approach by addressing issues in the product development phase and not waiting for the next big breach.