By David Sharpe, enterprise accounts – supply chain & logistics, Exponential-e
The use of telematics in fleet management is nothing new. Using telecommunication devices to collect, store and send information between vehicles and a central office, telematics as we know it began with the advent of full-GPS access in the US in 1993.
Major automotive manufacturers first granted third parties access to this information in 2002, and the technology has continued to grow in sophistication ever since.
Today, telematics enables fleet managers to monitor and analyse every aspect of their logistical operations, from fuel consumption and driver behaviour, to traffic congestion and maintenance intervals.
However, although the technology offers a range of benefits, the massive volume of data it generates, as well as the increasingly complex ways in which that data can be used, can represent significant risk vectors.
Open to exploitation
Telematics relies on secure network topologies to transmit this data to cloud-based servers, ensuring it can be accessed by whoever within the organisation needs access, regardless of their location.
This data can be vulnerable to theft or manipulation by those with criminal intent.
Addresses can be edited, routes manipulated, or vehicles remotely unlocked in more sophisticated cases, any of which would be bad for business.
In addition to the financial and reputational damage this might cause, there are regulatory legislation such as data sovereignty, the EU-US privacy shield and 2018’s introduction of GDPR focused on the protection of data.
It’s imperative, therefore, that this data is protected from the moment it’s generated in a vehicle, when it’s received and analysed, and through to its eventual storage.
But, while there are many different solutions on the market for each stage of the data’s journey – from connectivity, to analytics, to storage – a piecemeal solution runs the risk of creating security weaknesses.
A single framework
An end-to-end approach to implementing a secure telematics methodology and the data it generates is essential.
Bolting together pieces from four or five disparate vendors can risk gaps in coverage, leaving the system open to exploitation, particularly amidst the fast-paced changes we are experiencing in technology advancement and the security vulnerabilities that come with these.
These gaps may be eliminated by taking a more turnkey approach. Employing a single framework that implements SD-WAN, other aspects of data connectivity such as 4/5G, heterogeneous data storage capabilities, and collaboration with analytics partners for management of cloud and security services can offer significant benefits by encapsulating all of these areas and services, subsequently removing any gaps they may form between them.
Most importantly, of course, security must sit at the core of any such solution. All data should be encrypted, for example, whether it’s in transit – from vehicle to server to end user – or at rest, at any point in its journey.
Enabling proactive decisions around everything from customer service levels and operating costs, to driver safety and the lifespan of their fleet, telematics is an essential part of fleet management today, as it affords logistical operations the intelligence to gain competitive advantage.
The associated risks to the data on which it depends should never be under-estimated. In the face of such risks, a holistic approach to protecting that data at every stage is the only sensible solution.