Aiways is a Chinese tech firm looking to reinvent the automotive sector. Formed in 2017, it is building low-emission vehicles and developing artificial intelligence systems to tackle travel services, automobile retail, and energy management. The company has been dubbed “the Chinese Tesla.”
Reinventing the automotive sector means the business wants to operate in an entirely new way compared to traditional car makers. Like smartphones, the software in Aiways vehicles will be constantly updated. Similarly, the vehicles of the future—like their drivers—will be always connected.
“The hardware may remain fixed,” says Tony Hang, head of Information Technology for Aiways, “but upgrades will be delivered online or over the air. The vehicle will be a collector of data and a receiver of software improvements.”
Robust cybersecurity is business-critical if Aiways is to successfully launch its low-energy vehicles in the global automotive market. “We need our security position to operate at the highest level,” says Hang. “Every time a car connects to our network, there’s a potential risk.”
Aiways is built on international collaboration, with production facilities in China and design offices in Germany. The company also plans to open a network of international sales offices. With Aiways developing proprietary technology at the cutting edge of the industry, this entire operation needs to be secure while enabling seamless workflows.
“Our network environment is extremely challenging,” says Hang. “Our factories, our R&D, our cars, our customers will all be connected to the network.”
The company’s security approach is built around the Cortex XDR™ service for endpoint protection as well as a pair of Palo Alto Networks PA-3200 Series Next-Generation Firewalls in its Shanghai data center. Aiways also deployed two PA-3200 Series firewalls at its production facility in Jiangxi.
The PA-3200 Series devices provide dedicated, programmable hardware resources for networking, security, signature matching, and management functions, ensuring predictable performance. The firewalls deliver high decryption throughput and SSL session capacity, meaning Aiways can secure encrypted traffic without slowing down its business. In addition, the security platform simplifies deployments, and allows Aiways to uncover and stop hidden threats without compromising privacy.
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The engagement with Palo Alto Networks will give Aiways a competitive advantage in the emerging “smart vehicle” sector, Hang asserts. “The automotive sector is going to have to follow the financial market in terms of how it deals with cybersecurity. The Palo Alto Networks brand dominates the information security field. The company’s reputation alone gives us an advantage.”
Aiways can now secure its international facilities and vehicles. Software updates can be delivered securely, and security management is more automated and more efficient. “We have 1,000 employees and need just two people to manage all security issues,” says Hang. “A secure network enables the business to move quickly.”
Aiways plans to launch its vehicles in Europe as soon as possible, and Palo Alto Networks enables the company to respect local GDPR regulations. “Data regulation is inescapable. Our vehicles will be driven across borders, and they will continue to gather and transmit data.”
As a globally dispersed business, and one built without legacy IT infrastructure, deploying its security in the cloud will be an essential component of Aiways’ plans. Hang says being able to manage Cortex XDR in a virtual environment brings huge advantages. “We enjoy a consistent, unified experience, whatever the environment.”
Hang concludes that Palo Alto Networks is a partner for the long term. “Pre-launch, we’re almost at a ‘stealth state.’ The threats to our network will only increase once we become globally recognized. With Palo Alto Networks, we have a security platform provider that will continue to develop further offerings for future security scenarios. Security is not static; our security approach has to be dynamic.”