The rush to implement e-business tools like the online trade exchange is exposing automaker and supplier systems to a previously unheard-of level of risk.
'Formerly our systems were very much islands,' said John Bromfield, global risk management services leader for Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. 'They existed for one organization. You had to mount an attack on the system to get in.'
But with the advent of e-business tools, that framework is changing, Bromfield told conference-goers.
'We're opening up our networks and our systems to each other,' Bromfield said. 'And I think that's going to significantly shift where we are.'
A 1999 survey by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of transactional websites - those sites where purchases are made - revealed that 59 per cent had some sort of fraud or security attack, Bromfield said.
This is an area people just don't like to publicize, he said. It can potentially undermine a brand, Bromfield said.
Previously the larger share of security breaks were from internal sources, said Ulrich Boche, IT security technical consultant at IBM.
Boche recommended running the most up-to-date software, and to upgrade it whenever possible.
Also, security needs to be part of the application design, not an add-on later or a piecemeal approach, he said. Companies also should have layered security measures to help avoid a single point of failure, he said.
Siegfried Wolf, president of Magna Europa AG, offered a far less technical approach to security - building trust between the automakers and suppliers.
While technology will play a role in security, it will be trust between all parties involved that will make e-business work, Wolf said.
He added: 'What OEMs and suppliers must both work on is a move from a power game to a trust relationship.'