SVI: The most important acronym for truck data

SVI scares vehicle makers because it allows for the transfer of data at the discretion of the vehicle owner.

The Secure Vehicle Interface (SVI) is one of the most important concepts in vehicle data security that we aren’t talking about. Why? Because vehicle manufacturers don’t want you to. But the independent aftermarket, and the Auto Care Association in particular, think you should know about SVI because vehicle manufacturers don’t want your trucks, tools and equipment to have it.

SVI is a telematics and vehicle data security measure, hidden in the coding of advanced vehicle technologies, engines, tools and so on, that connects to your vehicle’s CAN bus. It should also be written into the CAN bus. At its most basic function, SVI allows for the secure transfer of data to and from your vehicle. Here is why that scares vehicle makers: it allows the transfer of data at the discretion of the vehicle owner. 

OEMs and your data

Currently, the data generated from your vehicles is being transmitted to the vehicle manufacturer. Some information you have access to as the fleet, but not all of it. And neither do your technicians, your parts manufacturers or your aftermarket shops. The vehicle manufacturers have complete control over your data. This means they can require you to service your fleet at their dealerships, limit your access to compatible replacement parts and ultimately drive up maintenance costs.

To add insult to injury, their data collection is not entirely secure. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) say they employ data security protocols on their trucks but cannot explain what those are, for fear that they are exposed as not truly being secure. Furthermore, OEMs are collecting your vehicle data on large central servers that hold information on thousands of connected vehicles. Location, vehicle controls, engine function and more are sitting on these servers just waiting for malicious hackers to break in and disrupt the American freight network.

The SVI solution

When a vehicle or equipment developer includes the SVI as a communication protocol in the creation of its product, they are enabling a secure, private and safe method for data transfer. According to Joe Register, vice president of emerging technologies at Auto Care Association, the SVI, in heavy terms, “creates two secured interfaces for the data to be transmitted—the first at the vehicle network, either through a wired or wireless method; and the second at the external receiving point, collecting data.”

To put it more simply: if your truck is a private party and someone wants in, SVI is the bouncer. It validates, approves and transmits vehicle data in a common language from the vehicle to the third-party that is requesting or providing information and is also SVI-enabled. You, as the vehicle owner, have the control over who or what gets approved to access information from your vehicle.

Because SVI is embedded into each individual vehicle, a malicious hacker or corrupted equipment attempting to access your vehicle data and systems would have to attack vehicle by vehicle—safeguarding the freight network from a mass data security breach.

Why is SVI better?

While SVI sounds like a new technology only for new vehicles and equipment, it can also be retrofitted onto older vehicles. Even the trucks in your existing fleet can be wrapped in their own secure SVI data transmission blanket.

Furthermore, when you, the vehicle owner, are placed in control of your data, you can allow access of vehicle information to independent service providers, product developers and others to relieve strict service contracts with dealers and OEMs. Assigning this kind of secure access levels the playing field for vehicles owners when choosing maintenance. That leads to faster, better maintenance and at lower costs.

How do you get SVI?

Currently, SVI is not being enabled in advanced vehicle technologies, because it is not being required by the standards bodies that govern equipment development around the world. Organizations such as SAE International and ISO are considering proposals to set SVI as the standard protocol for vehicles, equipment and intelligent transportation systems. However, these proposals face strong opposition by OEMs, because it eliminates their control over vehicle information and their customers.

The independent aftermarket, lead by the Auto Care Association and HDDA: Heavy Duty, is pushing to get these proposals adopted. We’re doing this because we believe the owner of the vehicle should also be the owner and ultimate authority over their own data. You should have the choice of who to safely, securely and privately transfer fleet information to. SVI is the way to do that.

Sheila Andrews is the director of heavy-duty programs for the Auto Care Association.