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Protect onboard video from cyber threats

Posted: April 6, 2018 by Elizabeth Bate

TORONTO, Ont. — Connected objects are increasingly becoming a part of our business, our vehicles, and our lives. With that comes an increased potential to be hacked.

Knowing who handles your data, and where they’re located, is one step in making sure that information stays secure, says Jim Angel, PeopleNet’s vice-president of Video Intelligence Solutions.

In the event of an incident on the road, a common industry practice is to send onboard video footage to overseas representatives who review it and send back a finding. That process sees data transferred through several hands along the way.

But each person touching your data or accessing your network has the potential to expose it to hackers, even unintentionally. Attackers looking to upload ransomware have been known to email links to shippers as a way to transfer a virus when syncing data, or hitch a ride on telematics and video data being shared back and forth.

Checking out partners and asking important questions about their security processes is one way to reduce the risk. Another way is to ensure as much of your data as possible is controlled in house, says Angel.

“Nobody can review your data better than the safety personnel within the organization.”

While high-tech devices have made it possible to keep track of everything in and out of the cab through 360-degree and driver-facing video, the more data that is collected and transferred, the more access points hackers have. And Angel says fleets need to be able to justify keeping the data they collect about drivers.

“From a legal perspective, you have to be willing to defend all the information you have,” he says.

Each fleet is different, and collecting data is a personal choice, but once the decision is made there may be obligations around who needs to be privy to that information in the event of a collision. Outside of those obligations, the less hands on that data, the safer it will be.

Angel says drivers should be brought into the process early and taught about the systems being used.

“You involve them up front and tell them, ‘Here’s why we feel like we need to do it,’” he said. “It’s become a recruiting and retention issue.”

Not only will a driver be more likely to be on board if the systems are explained up front, they provide another line of defense against a possible cyber attack, able to watch for changes in the system that shouldn’t be there, and less likely to make mistakes that will expose networks to harm.

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