November 15, 2022

IoT and the Automotive Industry: Importance of PKI and Identity Management

3d illustration of a car

Automotive IoT

The automotive industry is no stranger to the digital revolution. They have been at the forefront of utilising technology for their production and distribution operations, as well as their customer experience. With cars connected to the IoT expected to reach 367 million globally by 2027, there is an imminent need to ensure these vehicles are safe from security breaches.

To help secure the automotive industry, organizations are turning to Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and identity management solutions that provide a reliable level of authentication and encryption for connected cars. In this blog post, we’ll go over why these two solutions are critical for securing the automotive industry and some of the best practices you can implement.

The Automotive Industry and the Need for Data Security

In recent years, the automotive industry has become increasingly reliant on electronic data and systems. This dependence has led to a corresponding increase in the importance of data security for the industry. Unfortunately, the automotive industry has also been the target of several high-profile data breaches, which have highlighted the need for improved security measures.

One of the most significant challenges facing the automotive industry is that of protecting data as it is transmitted between different parts of the supply chain. ECUs are often provided by suppliers meaning both the car manufacturer and the ECU supplier need to have user access rights, highlighting the need for identity governance across the supply chain.

To be able to share data effectively, businesses need to have confidence that it will not be intercepted or accessed by unauthorised individuals. Public key infrastructure (PKI) can provide this kind of security by encrypting data using digital certificates, helping to both secure sensitive data and control user’s access.

This leads us to another important aspect of data security in the automotive industry, which is identity management. To protect sensitive information, it is essential to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to it. Identity management systems can help in managing access to data by verifying the identity of users and authorising them to view or edit specific files.

There is also the issue of the cars themselves, and how appropriate access to the vehicle could impact a driver. Internet connected devices are involved in many aspects of modern vehicles, from the IoT sensors and cameras to the UI and infotainment systems.

Charlie Miller, a Twitter security researcher, and Chris Valesek, Director of Vehicle Security Research for IOActive “uncovered significant vulnerabilities in connected cars.” Other high profile hacks include remote access of Kia 360 camera, and using only a VIN being able to ‘start/stop the engine, remotely lock/unlock the vehicle, flash headlights, honk vehicles, and retrieve the precise location of Acura, Honda, Kia, Infiniti, and Nissan cars.’ [Source:]

This highlighted the importance of implementing secure authentication process in vehicles, as well as a range of other security measures. This includes encrypting data when sending it over the internet, using digital certificates for users to authenticate themselves with their car and more. By taking proper security measures, automakers can ensure that drivers’ personal data remains safe.

Overall, by implementing PKI and identity management solutions, the automotive industry can take a major step forward in securing its electronic data.

How PKI and Identity Management Systems Can Help

PKI and identity management can help automotive companies secure their vehicles and protect their customers’ data. By using PKI to encrypt communication between vehicles and other devices, automotive companies can ensure that only authorized devices can access digital assets.

Additionally, by using identity management systems, automotive companies can track which users have access to which data and revoke access as needed. This helps to prevent unauthorised access and ensures that only authorized users can view or modify data.

Current Solutions:
  • Vehicle ownership transfer – Secure and scalable security solution to meet the needs of ownership transfer for manufacturers, leasing companies, car rental companies.
  • Vehicle digital identity and trust – Solution leveraging PKI certificate management for connected devices.
  • Data privacy and compliance – Solution uses policy-driven crypto key provisioning and management.
  • Secure over-the-air updates and code signing 
  • Vehicle access control – Secure and scalable security solution to meet the needs for Vehicle access control

The Benefits of A PKI and Identity Management System in the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry is under pressure to secure vehicles from cyberattacks. One of the most promising ways to do this is by using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and identity management. PKI can be used to authenticate devices and communications, while identity management can be used to manage permissions.

PKI can help to prevent unauthorised access to vehicles and their IoT devices as well as protect against spoofing attacks. By authenticating devices and communications, PKI can help ensure that only authorized individuals have access to critical data and systems. PKI can help protect against man-in-the-middle attacks, in which an attacker intercepts communications between two parties.

Identity management can be used to manage authorised access and permissions for individuals and devices. By creating and managing digital identities, organizations can ensure that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive data and IoT systems. Additionally, identity management can help automotive organizations comply with regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Implementing PKI and identity management can help automotive organizations secure their vehicles from cyberattacks. PKI can be used to authenticate devices and communications, while identity management can be used to manage access control and permissions.

These security measures can help protect against unauthorised access, spoofing attacks, and man-in-the-middle attacks. Additionally, identity management can help automotive organizations comply with regulations such as the GDPR.

The Challenges of Implementing Identity and Access Management (IAM) Systems

For one, the automotive industry is global, with vehicles and data being exchanged between countries. This makes it difficult to implement identity management or create a centralised PKI system. As discussed, the large numbers of car manufacturers and suppliers creates a complex network, that needs to be secured among multiple systems.

Additionally, the automotive industry is highly regulated, meaning there are strict requirements for how data must be managed and protected. These requirements can make it difficult to implement automotive IoT solutions in a way that meets all the necessary standards.

Finally, the automotive industry is constantly changing and evolving, with new technologies and approaches being developed all the time. This means that any PKI or identity management system must be able to adapt to change quickly, to keep up with the latest threats.


PKI and identity management are essential components of a secure automotive supply chain. By implementing the right protocols, processes, and technologies for authentication, encryption, authorisation, and data integrity within an automotive environment using PKI and other identity management solutions, organizations can ensure the security of their vehicles from design to sale.

As the future of the automotive industry moves towards more connectivity, technology, and the possibility of driverless vehicles on the horizon, ensuring that these vehicles are protected against security breaches and malicious actors is vital.

Combining PKI with other security measures such as access control systems or biometric authentication can further enhance safety and security across all areas of automotive operations.

If you’d like to read more about how Device Authority’s KeyScaler solution is protecting the future of connected cars, read more in our full length guide which can be accessed here:


Louise José