Aftermarket ADAS and Cybersecurity? Don’t Worry!


Aftermarket-installed ADAS systems help save lives. However, there are some folks that do not know how they work and think they may pose a cybersecurity threat. After all, you are adding sensors to a vehicle, but they are separate from the vehicle’s internal electrical architecture. Luckily, all of the aftermarket ADAS systems to date work on their own internal electronics separate from the cloud. This means they are not ripe for hacking. In fact, the NHTSA recently published a paper Cybersecurity Best Practices for the Safety of Modern Vehicles. They even made suggestions for the vehicle aftermarket, and luckily all current suppliers are compliant. We want people to be safe and remain confident that adding additional safety features will not increase the threat of a remote cyber vehicle attack.

Be Confident

CybersecurityAlthough vehicle cyber attacks are relatively rare, accidents occur daily. The safety margin given by forward-collision sensors, backup sensors and blind spot monitoring systems are important, and we want people to feel confident these systems are not exposing their vehicles to attack. These systems use remote-mounted sensors that are wired into a control box separate from the vehicle’s electric communication system. They do not share data with your car’s electric architecture. In the future, the aftermarket may want to communicate with the vehicle’s data to make these systems even safer. For example, it a forward-collision warning system want to know what speed you are traveling at to give as much as an advanced alert as possible. But we are not there quite yet.

NHTSA Guidelines

CybersecurityThe NHTSA looked at all types of integrated vehicle electronics. They came up with these guidelines “Aftermarket device manufacturers should consider that some of their devices connect with cyber-physical systems that may impact the safety-of-life.” This does not include the current ADAS systems, but devices that communicate with OBD sensors. These are typically vehicle trackers or data collection devices from insurance companies. NHTSA continues “Even though the primary purpose of the system may not be safety related (e.g., a telematics device collecting fleet operational data), depending on the vehicle system architecture, if not properly protected the device could be used as proxy to influence the behavior of safety-critical systems in vehicles. Aftermarket devices could be connected to a variety of vehicle types with varying levels of cybersecurity protections on the vehicle side of the interface. Therefore, aftermarket device manufacturers should employ strong cybersecurity protections on their products.” Again, the sensors used for current ADAS detection systems do not need to integrate with the vehicle communication systems. They are run separately and concurrently to the vehicle’s electronic architecture. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about cyberattacks in the vehicle’s electrical system. Think of it like an aircraft with redundant systems just in case something were to go wrong. The official name of this is called a dedicated transport mechanism. It prevents the vehicle’s electronic architecture from getting spoofed.

Drive Safe, Not Scared of Cybersecurity

Indeed, it is a crazy world where we live when we even must contemplate a discussion of aftermarket safety equipment potentially attacking vehicle electronics systems. Thus, making them less safe. However, the aftermarket equipment VZAN retailers uses separate wiring and ECUs, so they are not vulnerable to cyber-attacks. These systems are generally not connected to the internet, except on a few occasions when they are being set up and connected to a computer for programming or flashing the hardware. But that is when the communication stops and they work independently of your vehicle and its electrical system. Eventually, we may see over-the-air updates for safety equipment, but don’t let that stop you from purchasing ADAS Advanced Driver Assistance Systems equipment today! Especially from a VZAN retailer who knows how to keep your vehicle and your privacy safe.