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Cybertech Tokyo: the challenges of securing connected vehicles

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

Experts from Israel and Japan participated in a panel discussion and cybersecurity and mobility, in the online Cybertech Tokyo conference

Screenshot, Cybertech Tokyo's "Cybersecurity and Mobility" online panel
Screenshot, Cybertech Tokyo's "Cybersecurity and Mobility" online panel

“In spite of the global pandemic and absence of physical communication, the volume of Japanese investment in Israel has reached nearly $3 billion in 2021, up from $1 billion the year before.”

These staggering number are provided by Elchanan Harel, President of Harel-Hertz Investment House Ltd, who shared the main findings of the organization’s 2021 report at the Cybertech Tokyo conference, held online last week.

Harel spoke in the context of a panel titled “Cybersecurity and Mobility”, moderated by Gilad Majerowicz, Partner & Head of Japan Practice Herzog Fox & Neeman. He notes the shift in investment from more traditional IT and internet to other high-tech sectors, such as cybersecurity, and credits former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for starting this process during his visit in Japan in 2014.

“Last year, we got some $400 million in investment from Japan in 15 cases – the total cases of investment from Japan were 85 cases,” said Harel, adding that although the pandemic kept face-to-face communications at bay, “the trust between the two business communities (Israel and Japan) is overwhelming.”

However, replying to Majerowicz’s question on whether these impressive numbers will continue in 2022, Harel was cautious. “It’s quite early to state, we will have a better picture in spring, but I think it’s going to be, hopefully, the same level. 2022 is forecast to be a difficult year, the market won’t be as friendly as it used to be, it may lead to a moderate growth – I hope it will still be a growth.”

Continuous innovation as the key for survival

Turning the spotlight to the panel’s main theme, Majerowicz asked Moshe Karako, CTO of NTT Labs in Israel, whether he thinks connected vehicles are more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks than other connected assets. The reply was yes.

“First, they can be physically accessed when left unattended,” explained Karako. “Also, the connectivity can be done through a public network. Third, in many cases, security is not thought through enough or implemented, software supply chain isn’t thought of enough, control and monitoring of mobile apps, and more.” In a later part of the discussion, Karako mentioned that Zero Trust could be the best solution for automotive cyber security.

Kenji Iijima, General Manager at Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (MSI) and Managing Director of Global Digital Hub Managements for MSI’s innovation hub in Israel, discussed his company’s collaboration with Israeli cyber. “We think that continuous innovation is an essential factor in the survival of the company,” he explains, adding that MSI established the digital hub in Tel Aviv in order to explore and implement the various solutions and technologies developed by Israeli start-ups.

Iijima also discussed advances in the automotive realm, especially security. “Autonomous vehicles will be universal and part of social structure. Mobility security is important for MSI because of our traditional insurance products. There are new challenges, so it’s essential to collaborate with start-ups and come up with solutions.”

From cyber education to privacy awareness

“Israel is known for its innovative start-up ecosystem, but we don’t have any vehicle manufacturers, so it all depends on cooperation with manufacturers in other countries,” said Dadi Gertler, Executive Director of Technology Systems at the Israel National Cyber Directorate, in response to a question on how Israel is addressing the challenge of automotive cyber security on a national level.

“Most of the cyber challenges are not just technology – it’s the people, skills, know-how, the supply chain needs to understand this better,” Gertler continued. “We’re talking about education of the relevant supply chain, starting from the manufacturer all the to the car agency team.”

Takahiro Sugimoto, President & CEO of Asgent, one of the first companies to distribute Israeli cybersecurity products in Japan, discussed the keys to the successful adoption of cybersecurity regulations in the automotive area: simple, easy assessment of software; seamless integration of security and threat mitigation solutions into the vehicles; and reducing the costs of cyber operations by minimizing false positives. Sugimoto also discussed the importance of using a designated high level cybersecurity solution.

Yoav Levy, CEO & Co-Founder of automotive cybersecurity startup Upstream Security – whose C round was led by MSI – shared how his company has been approaching the issue of cyber in the transportation realm. Upstream Security’s solution is agentless and cloud-based.

“We believe that a purpose-built approach is key, as automotive security is quite different from enterprise security and needs tailor-made solutions for specific threats,” said Levy, adding some of the unique challenges of the connected vehicular realm, such as mobile that can perform operations on the cars remotely, from unlocking doors to starting the engine.

Majerowicz asked Levy about the next phases, in which connected vehicles will collect massive amounts of data on their drivers, from habits on the road to health information. Where will this data be stored, and does my garage now need to have the best cybersecurity solution? He asked.

“In a connected world, privacy is a big concern and issue both to the consumers and to the vendors. Car manufacturers are taking serious measures in order to comply with GDPR and other privacy regulations,” said Levy. Using his company as an example, Levy added that they “only deal with anonymized data, only tech coming from the vehicle, nothing about the driver.” Still, he stressed the importance of consumer awareness to privacy matters.

“Data privacy is a big issue. Definitely in the coming years, when everything will be connected,” added Gertler, mentioning that while privacy awareness in Israel is on the rise, it is still not at a sufficient level.

The next event by Cybertech Conferences will be Cybertech Global TLV, a 3-day event that will take place (in person!) in Tel Aviv between March 1st-3rd, 2022. For additional information, please visit the event’s website.

Watch the full "Cybersecurity & Mobility" panel:

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