Automakers Facing Threat of Hackers Turning Cars into Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Jon LeSage, con­tribut­ing edi­tor, Deal­er Digest Dai­ly

SITUATION:
• A dri­ver par­tic­i­pat­ing in a test sees that his speedome­ter has dropped from 60 miles per hour to zero, right as the horn honks end­less­ly. The engine has been killed and the dri­ver is locked in his car!
• Uni­ver­si­ty researchers are test­ing out cyber secu­ri­ty hack­er attacks that will scare the day­lights out of dri­vers.
• Guess what? There are hack­ers out there los­ing inter­est in tak­ing over Depart­ment of Defense com­put­er net­works with the prospect of mak­ing vehi­cles weapons of mass destruc­tion.
Vehi­cle elec­tron­ics sys­tems and onboard com­put­ers have become remark­ably sophis­ti­cat­ed in recent years, and con­nect­ed car tech­nolo­gies up the ante.
• A study by Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Diego and Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton is show­ing that hack­ers are gain­ing more pow­er over pub­lic safe­ty.

SIGNIFICANCE:
• Con­nect­ed cars are rapid­ly expand­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty and offer­ings – such as Toyota’s Touch, Ford’s Sync, and Chrysler’s Ucon­nect sys­tems.
• Hack­er attacks are not a press­ing issue today, but “in the next years, we will have to dis­cuss the issues that could come up,” said Dirk Hoheisel, a board mem­ber at Bosch.
• Safe­ty is the top issue cit­ed by Google, gov­ern­ment agen­cies, and law enforce­ment in the autonomous, dri­ver­less test runs being tried out in Neva­da and Cal­i­for­nia. The harsh irony is that hack­ers could reverse the good for­tune achieved through these amaz­ing cars.
Car­mak­ers have begun prob­ing their vehi­cles for cyber secu­ri­ty issues. One major glob­al automak­er has set up an in-house team that focus­es entire­ly on vehi­cle IT secu­ri­ty, and out­sources exter­nal audits to test its vehi­cles for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to hack­ers.

Source: Finan­cial Times
FT press cut­ting ser­vice:

 

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