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Vehicular communication (VC) systems are developed primarily to enhance transportation safety and efficiency. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication, in particular frequent cooperative awareness messages or safety beacons, have been considered over the past years as a main approach. Meanwhile, the need to provide security and safeguard the users privacy have been well understood, and security architectures for VC systems have been proposed. Although technical approaches to secure VC have several commonalities and a consensus has formed, there are critical questions that have remained largely unanswered: Are proposed security and privacy schemes practical? Can the secured VC systems support the VC-enabled applications as effectively as unsecured VC would? How should security be designed so that its integration into a VC system has the least impact on the system performance? In this paper, we provide answers to these questions, investigating the joint effect of a set of system parameters and components. We consider the stateof-the-art approach in secure VC, and we evaluate analytically and through simulations interdependencies among components and system characteristics. Overall, we identify the key design choices to deploy efficient and effective secure VC.