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ISO/SAE 21434:2021 Road vehicles

ISO/SAE 21434:2021 Road vehicles

What is ISO/SAE 21434:2021 Road vehicles — Cybersecurity engineering?

ISO/SAE 21434:2021 Road vehicles is a joint standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The standard is specifically designed for road vehicles and focuses on cybersecurity engineering. This standard provides a comprehensive framework for managing cybersecurity risks throughout the entire lifecycle of automotive systems, software, and components.

Also, the standard outlines the requirements for a cybersecurity process, which involves various activities such as risk assessment, vulnerability management, and the implementation of appropriate security measures. It also provides methodologies and best practices to assess cybersecurity risks and to design secure systems that can resist, detect, and recover from cyber-attacks or unauthorized activities. The standard also addresses secure development, production, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of automotive products and systems.

The primary objectives of ISO/SAE 21434:2021 are:
  • To establish a standardized cybersecurity process across the automotive industry.
  • To promote a cybersecurity culture and awareness within organizations.
  • To ensure the secure integration of electronic systems into vehicles.
  • To guide organizations in identifying and mitigating cybersecurity risks effectively.

Furthermore, this standard is intended to be used by all stakeholders in the automotive ecosystem, including but not limited to vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers. Its implementation can help organizations to ensure the cybersecurity of road vehicles and connected systems, thereby fostering consumer trust and regulatory compliance.

Also, the automotive industry has become increasingly complex and interconnected, with modern vehicles often containing numerous electronic systems that communicate with each other as well as external networks. As a result, the potential for cybersecurity threats has grown significantly. By adhering to ISO/SAE 21434:2021, organizations involved in the automotive industry can better prepare themselves against the evolving cybersecurity risks, ensuring both the safety and security of road vehicles and their occupants.

In summary, ISO/SAE 21434:2021 provides a robust framework for cybersecurity engineering in road vehicles, guiding organizations through the processes of risk assessment, secure development, and ongoing management. Adopting this standard can contribute significantly to enhancing the cybersecurity posture of automotive systems, thereby mitigating risks and enhancing the safety and reliability of road transport.

What are the requirements for ISO/SAE 21434:2021?

ISO/SAE 21434:2021 Road vehicles sets forth a comprehensive set of requirements aimed at ensuring cybersecurity within the context of road vehicles. These requirements cover a range of issues from the conceptual phase of product development to decommissioning. While it would be impractical to list all the detailed requirements here, I can provide a high-level overview organized into key domains:

Concept Phase

  • Cybersecurity Goals: Define high-level objectives for cybersecurity to guide the engineering process.
  • Initial Risk Assessment: Conduct a preliminary risk assessment to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities.

Product Development

  • System and Software Architecture: Develop an architecture that aligns with cybersecurity goals and mitigates identified risks.
  • Threat Analysis and Risk Assessment (TARA): Conduct a detailed threat and risk analysis to determine specific cybersecurity requirements.
  • Security Measures: Implement appropriate security measures based on the TARA outcomes. These could include cryptographic techniques, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, etc.

Verification and Validation

  • Testing: Execute rigorous testing protocols to validate the effectiveness of implemented security measures.
  • Review and Audit: Conduct reviews and audits to ensure that the cybersecurity goals and requirements are met.
  • Secure Manufacturing: Implement controls to ensure that cybersecurity measures are not compromised during manufacturing.
  • Quality Assurance: Establish a quality assurance process to check that the cybersecurity features are implemented correctly.

Operation and Maintenance

  • Incident Response: Develop and implement an incident response plan to handle cybersecurity incidents that could occur after the product has been deployed.
  • Software Updates: Create a secure mechanism for updating software to address vulnerabilities.


  • Data Erasure: Implement processes to securely erase sensitive data.
  • Decommissioning Plan: Create and execute a plan to securely decommission hardware and software components.
Additional Requirements
  • Documentation: Keep thorough documentation of the cybersecurity engineering process, including risk assessments, design decisions, test results, etc.
  • Governance and Compliance: Ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements related to cybersecurity.
  • Training and Awareness: Establish a cybersecurity awareness program for employees involved in the design, development, and operation of automotive systems.

Overall, the standard seeks to be exhaustive, guiding organizations through each phase of the product lifecycle. Compliance with ISO/SAE 21434:2021 involves a multi-disciplinary approach that encompasses not only technical measures but also organizational and process-oriented activities. The goal is to ensure that cybersecurity is integrated into the DNA of the automotive product lifecycle, thereby offering a robust defense against potential cyber threats.

What are the benefits of ISO/SAE 21434:2021 Road vehicles ?

The adoption of ISO/SAE 21434:2021 offers several significant benefits to organizations involved in the automotive industry. Here are some of the key advantages:

Enhanced Cybersecurity Posture

  • Risk Mitigation: The standard provides a systematic approach to identifying, assessing, as well as mitigating cybersecurity risks, making it easier to anticipate and counteract threats.
  • Security by Design: It advocates for incorporating cybersecurity measures right from the conceptual stage, thereby building security into the system architecture rather than as an add-on.

Regulatory Compliance and Legal Safeguards

  • Compliance: Adopting the standard can help in complying with regional and international regulations, which increasingly focus on the cybersecurity of automotive systems.
  • Legal Protection: In case of an incident, adhering to a recognized standard can demonstrate due diligence and could offer some level of legal safeguard.
Competitive Advantage
  • Market Differentiation: Organizations that can demonstrate adherence to recognized cybersecurity standards may also gain a competitive edge in the market.
  • Customer Trust: Consumers are increasingly aware of cybersecurity issues; compliance with the standard can instill greater confidence in your products.

Operational Benefits

  • Cost-Efficiency: By proactively addressing cybersecurity, organizations can avoid the potentially high costs associated with a cyber incident, such as downtime, data breaches, or reputational damage.
  • Quality Assurance: The standard contributes to improving the overall quality of the product by making cybersecurity an integral part of the development process.

Industry Standardization

  • Harmonization: As a globally recognized standard, ISO/SAE 21434:2021 helps in harmonizing cybersecurity practices across the automotive supply chain.
  • Ecosystem Security: When all players in the ecosystem follow the standard, it enhances the collective cybersecurity posture, making the entire value chain more resilient.

Business Continuity and Resilience

  • Incident Management: The standard mandates the establishment of an incident response plan, thereby preparing the organization to handle cybersecurity incidents more effectively.
  • Resilience: The focus on continuous improvement and updates ensures that the organization can adapt to evolving threats, contributing to long-term resilience.

Collaboration and Communication

  • Common Language: Having a standardized approach helps in establishing a common language and understanding of cybersecurity issues among stakeholders.
  • Vendor Management: It provides a framework for assessing the cybersecurity posture of suppliers and partners, thereby facilitating more secure collaborations.

In summary, the adoption of ISO/SAE 21434:2021 provides organizations with a robust framework to systematically manage cybersecurity risks associated with road vehicles. This not only enhances the safety and security of automotive systems but also confers a range of operational, strategic, and competitive advantages. By aligning with this standard, organizations can also better position themselves to navigate the complexities and challenges of cybersecurity in the automotive industry.

Who needs ISO/SAE 21434:2021?

The ISO/SAE 21434:2021 standard is relevant to a wide array of stakeholders within the automotive industry. Here are some key parties who would benefit from adopting this standard:

Vehicle Manufacturers

  • Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs): Companies that design, manufacture, and sell vehicles must ensure that the electronic and software components in their vehicles are secure from cyber threats.

Component Suppliers

  • Tier 1 Suppliers: Companies that provide key components directly to OEMs should adopt this standard to ensure the cybersecurity of their products.
  • Tier 2 and Tier 3 Suppliers: Even lower-tier suppliers benefit from adopting the standard, especially if they are providing electronic components or software that could be vulnerable to cyber threats.

Software Developers

  • Embedded Software Developers: Those who create software for vehicle control systems, entertainment systems, or other onboard services should adhere to this standard to ensure robust cybersecurity measures.
  • App Developers: Developers creating applications that interact with vehicles (e.g., telematics, remote start apps) should also consider compliance.
Service Providers
  • Aftermarket Service Providers: Companies offering aftermarket modifications, which might include software or electronic components, should adopt this standard to ensure they are not introducing vulnerabilities.
  • Fleet Management Companies: Organizations that manage fleets of vehicles may also require compliance to ensure that their operations are not vulnerable to cyber threats.

Regulatory Bodies and Associations

  • Regulators: Government agencies that oversee vehicle safety may adopt or recommend this standard as part of their regulatory framework.
  • Industry Associations: Groups that work to standardize practices across the automotive industry could endorse or require member organizations to comply with ISO/SAE 21434:2021.

Testing and Certification Bodies

  • Certification Bodies: Organizations that certify automotive components or entire vehicles for safety and security could add ISO/SAE 21434:2021 to their criteria.


  • Individual Owners: While not directly responsible for compliance, end-users benefit from knowing that their vehicle’s manufacturer and associated service providers are adhering to recognized cybersecurity standards.
Consultants and Auditors
  • Cybersecurity Consultants: Those advising the automotive industry on cybersecurity measures may use this standard as a baseline.
  • Auditors: Internal and external auditors assessing the cybersecurity posture of an organization in the automotive sector can use ISO/SAE 21434:2021 as a guideline for their evaluations.

In summary, ISO/SAE 21434:2021 is designed to be broadly applicable across the automotive industry, affecting a diverse range of stakeholders. Adoption of the standard can significantly contribute to the overall cybersecurity posture of the entire automotive ecosystem, making it invaluable for any organization involved in the lifecycle of road vehicles and their components.

At last, Pacific Certifications is accredited by ABIS, you need more support with ISO/SAE 21434:2021 Road vehicles, please contact us at +91-8595603096 or support@pacificcert.com

Also read: ISO 20653:2023 Road vehicles

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