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Dear Reader,

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, a new alliance with significance for the automotive industry was announced: the Open Automotive Alliance, OAA, between Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia. The aim of the OAA is to bring Android, the open end-device operating system platform, to cars.

The founding members of the OAA are united by the vision of a real-time connected car. “The worlds of consumer and automotive technologies have never been more closely aligned,” said Ricky Hudi, Head of Electronics Development at Audi. “Working towards a common ecosystem benefits driver safety above all.”

However, guaranteeing the safety of the driver has never been as difficult as it is today. It is a fact that open platforms and network organisation are the only feasible means of realising the objectives in the development of the multi-billion product, the connected car. But they also conceal risks that one also has to address with openness.

Openness is a positive character trait, but it can be both a blessing and a curse. Being open also means being open to attack and being vulnerable. OEMs have to do deal with this dilemma more than ever before. The reason is that the car is becoming a mobile transmitter and receiver in the worldwide network - and the disastrous things which already happens are shown in the revelations surrounding the NSA affair and comparable attacks. In the meantime, data protection experts are describing it as a data Fukushima and a worldwide epidemic.

Vehicle manufacturers like to refer to the security strategies and expertise of the banking sector, even though this has already been undermined. OEMs are intensifying their connected car activities — not only out of a pure interest in the lucrative big data business. In the end, it is not only about data security but about driver safety and credibility towards the customer.

The automotive industry is still in the early stages of this readjustment process of security strategies, persuasion and business models. For that reason, I am calling for more openness in discussions, which I believe should not take place behind closed doors. This point is also made in the interesting report in ATZ 01/2014 “The Connected Car - Strategies against the Digital Crash”. I look forward to an ongoing dialogue.

Best regards,

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Schöttle, M. Openness. ATZ Elektron Worldw 9, 3 (2014).

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