Fleet operations today revolve around data. Telematics systems, connected cars, and similar IoT systems provide fleet managers with a wealth of information, but this connectivity also raises security concerns.
As data breach costs reach their highest point in decades, accounting for vulnerabilities in organizations’ data becomes increasingly crucial. Data-rich and notoriously difficult-to-secure fleets are no exception.
How Is Fleet Data Vulnerable?
Appraising fleet data vulnerabilities begins with understanding them. Many of these weaknesses arise from telematics and similar IoT networks. While these systems have many benefits, like tracking and managing fleets’ largest expenses, they lead to massive attack surfaces.
Connected fleets have a rapidly rising number of endpoints to manage, but often lack the expertise and experience to secure them. Limited on-board security features and standard practices like over-the-air (OTA) updates exacerbate these risks.
Fleets may feature more vulnerabilities than databases in other industries due to their reliance on multiple third parties. Logistics and supply chain operations are typically complex, interconnected webs, introducing more vulnerabilities from third-party providers and users. Just as fleets host multiple, disparate endpoints, their high user counts complicate managing data access.
How to Manage Fleet Data Vulnerabilities
As cyberattacks on vehicles keep rising, managing these vulnerabilities is increasingly crucial for fleets and their security partners. Here’s how cybersecurity professionals can address and minimize these risks:
1. Review Telematics Partners
The first step in securing fleet data from both device and user vulnerabilities is research. Organizations must review potential telematics providers before going into business with them to ensure they meet high security standards.
More than half of all organizations have experienced a data breach from a third party. Device and software vendors are among the riskiest third parties for fleets, as any vulnerabilities in these areas could weaken any other security measures. Consequently, reviewing their security practices is crucial.
Fleets should seek to only work with providers with definitive proof of high security standards, such as relevant certifications. Due diligence would also reveal if the provider has suffered any data breaches.
2. Encrypt All Wireless Communications
Another critical vulnerability of fleet data is its movement. This information doesn’t stay in one place, nor can it to be useful, so fleets must manage vast networks of wireless communications. Encryption is an essential step to securing these transmissions.
Fleets must be sure to use telematics devices that support advanced encryption levels. Because many IoT devices don’t enable encryption by default, fleet security professionals must also ensure they enable it before using these systems.
Encrypting this data at rest is just as important as doing so in transit. Any information stored in a fleet database should engage the same encryption standards to minimize the impact of a breach.
3. Minimize Data Access Privileges
Security professionals can further reduce fleet data vulnerabilities by restricting access privileges. The interconnected, multi-user fleet environments are easier to manage when access is carefully controlled.
As with many environments, it’s best to practice the principle of least privilege with fleet data. Restricting every device, user, and app so they can only access what they need will minimize lateral movement and insider breach risks.
Identity and Access Management (IAM) measures like role-based access control will also help track the source of a breach if something happens. This accountability can help make further improvements to the network and discourage malicious insider actions.
4. Strengthen Authentication Controls
Of course, managing access privileges is just one-half of IAM. Fleet security teams must also implement systems to verify device and user identities to ensure everyone is who they say they are when accessing a given database.
Passwords alone are insufficient, given poor password management trends and the vulnerabilities of fleet data. For users, measures like multi-factor authentication or biometrics are important. More sensitive systems may even implement behavioral biometrics to improve anomaly detection.
While human users are the most obvious target of these IAM controls, it’s important not to overlook devices. IAM measures for devices should use authentication methods like tokens and cryptography.
5. Update Regularly, But Carefully
Given fleet data’s dependence on IoT systems, regular updates are crucial. However, telematics devices often rely on OTA updates, introducing unique security concerns. Remember, the SolarWinds attack came through a backdoor installed through a compromised update.
Security professionals can mitigate these vulnerabilities by implementing update authentication controls. Tokens and digital signing are essential. These controls will ensure that any OTA firmware updates come from verified, trusted sources, minimizing the risk of malicious updates.
As blockchain technology advances, it could prove a useful tool for authenticating OTA updates. These transparent but immutable digital records provide the visibility these measures need.
Securing Fleet Data Is Imperative
Fleet data is often rife with vulnerabilities, but it doesn’t have to be that way. These strategies can help security professionals recognize, manage, and minimize these risks to ensure fleet data delivers its full potential without introducing unnecessary hazards.
As fleets become increasingly interconnected, these measures will become more critical. Businesses that don’t implement better fleet data vulnerability management could suffer severe consequences as attacks on these systems rise. By contrast, those that improve their security early could rise above the risks to outperform the competition.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc