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March 2, 2017 12:00 AM, EST

New TMC Task Force Begins Work on Cybersecurity Issues

Doorenbos, Hunt by John Sommers II for TT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In its first meeting, a new Technology & Maintenance Council cybersecurity issues task force began on Feb. 27 its work to study, develop guidelines and standardize protocols to protect fleets from getting their data hacked.

During a panel discussion, Gary Hunt, a task force member and vice president of equipment and maintenance for ABF Freight System, said the need to protect fleets from being hacked has been heightened due to such factors as increasing interconnectivity of vehicles and components, the movement toward autonomous trucks and requirements for diagnostics.

“We need to become more familiar with what’s going on,” Hunt said. “What concerns me as an equipment service manager is the increased opportunity for cyber attacks because of the interconnectivity of our vehicles and all of the components.”

“As we push more for autonomy and more interconnectivity we increase our threat capability.”

For example, Hunt said what if all trucks in Washington, D.C., are “hacked,” manipulated to block the beltway and shut down in order to prevent emergency vehicles from reaching the site of a terrorist attack?

“That’s actually a pretty simple scenario,” Hunt said. “There are others where, think about us as carriers, we tell all the bad guys what we’re carrying and if you have a hazardous materials placard on your truck, they can brick your truck and all they have to do is get the driver out of the truck.”

Hunt said the committee will be meeting and working with not only researchers, but also the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, OEMs, the Society of Automotive Engineers and the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

Keith Doorenbos, a system engineer with PACCAR, said that cybersecurity threats range from “tuners,” who try to find ways to modify trucks for more power or better fuel efficiency, to pranksters, criminals, nation states or those who would harm the public. Not to mention those who would hack a carrier to obtain proprietary information.

“Even at a lesser level we’ve seen not too long ago how individual trucks can be used as weapons in France and in Germany,” Doorenbos said. “The risk of giving somebody an easier way to access that kind of a weapon is something that we all want to avoid.”

“It goes without saying that none of us wants to end up on the front cover of Wired [magazine].”