Volkswagen launches new cybersecurity firm to tackle car security

The automaker is partnering with Israeli cybersecurity experts to stay on top of digital threats to its vehicles.

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Volkswagen

Volkswagen has teamed up with cybersecurity experts to establish a new company dedicated to automotive security.

On Wednesday, the German automaker said that the new company, dubbed Cymotive, is the result of the efforts of Volkswagen and three Israeli cybersecurity experts.

Led by Yuval Diskin, Tsafrir Kats and Dr Tamir Bechor, the new company will "develop advanced cyber security solutions for next-generation connected cars and mobile services," according to a press release.

Cymotive will be based in both Herzliya, Israel, and Wolfsburg, Germany, the same location as Volkswagen's headquarters.

It is not known how much investment the automaker has pumped into Cymotive, or how ownership rights between each party have been agreed.

Duskin, former head of the Israeli Security Services, will act as Cymotive chairman. The executive commented:

"Together with Volkswagen we are building a top-notch team of cyber security experts. We are aware of the significant technological challenges that will face us in the next years in dealing with the cyber security threats facing the connected car and the development of the autonomous car."

As our cars become smarter with driving aids, Wi-FI and Bluetooth connectivity and infotainment dashboards, potential avenues for attack have been created. It is no longer the case that automakers can simply focus on design, speed and fuel efficiency; instead, manufacturers must bring security into the picture.

It was only last month that researchers revealed a way to clone Volkswagen fobs used in wireless entry systems, potentially placing millions of Volkswagen cars sold from 2000 to 2016 at risk of compromise. All attackers need to use to clone keys are cheap off-the-shelf radio kits.

See also: Hackers hijack Jeeps once more, your brakes belong to them

It seems a rather long time since Volkswagen, currently embroiled in an emissions scandal, has released any good news. The recent discovery of "defeat devices" in so-called clean diesel vehicles from Volkswagen which duped emissions tests plunged the company into a whirlwind of investigations and court cases worldwide, leading to the automaker being forced to repair millions of vehicles.

In August, the company was ordered to pay $14.7 billion to settle some of the court cases levied against Volkswagen in the US, and this month, one of the engineers behind the "defeat devices" pleaded guilty to his role in the scandal.