Michael George (Photo: Claus Dick)

A security gap identified in BMW's ConnectedDrive infotainment system showed clearly that more connectivity also provides more entry points for cyber crime.

"Devices and services are more and more interconnected, and create vast amounts of data. But to whom do they belong and are they secure?" asked Michael George, author and former German intelligence agent.

George, who works for the state government of Bavaria, told the automotiveIT Congress that people are losing trust in hard- and software and in big Internet companies like Google and Amazon. The many scandals involving espionage and data misuse contributed to this development.

What do these growing worries mean for the auto industry? In recent years the number of news stories about endangered automotive companies in terms of cyber crime have actually exploded, George said. Especially in 2014, the auto industry posted a sharp rise.

"It's hard to quantify the number of hacks and the cost to the auto industry, because no one is talking about it," says George. "But indeed, it's a rising challenge for IT security departments," he added.

George lamented the quality of most software, including security products. "Software is one of the few products that don't have product warranties," he said, adding that no other products get the kind of frequent patches that software requires. "It's an unacceptable situation.

For the next 10 years, George said, digital sabotage is a major threat for the automotive industry. Governments and industries need to cooperate to establish a viable cyber security strategy, he added.

The automotiveIT Congress, which is hosted by the automotiveIT Group, has as its theme “The Auto Industry of the Future ”“ The New Role of IT.”