Whitney Burch
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New Car Technology Increases Risk of Cybersecurity Hacks

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As vehicle technology becomes more and more advanced, the risk increases for hackers to take control of your vehicle and steal your personal information.

Because more new vehicles are equipped with a host of technology and intelligence features that rely on computer technology and internet connection, if a hacker breaks into just one of these technology features, they have an open door to take over the rest of your vehicle’s technology and functions.

Cyber security startups as well as auto manufacturers are concerned that potential hacks could harm passengers of the affected cars. David Barzilai, chairman and co-founder of Karamba Security, an Israel-based start-up vehicle cybersecurity company, articulates: “The point is that suddenly we are exposed to major-scale attacks that can happen to us. And those attacks can result in fatalities.”


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Weak Spots in New Technology Design

New vehicle technology is often based on Electronic Control Units (ECUs). These ECUs are small computers that communicate with each other via a network to carry out the car’s functions. All it takes is for a hacker to access one ECU to take control of that vehicle’s system of ECUs.

Some access points on new vehicles are more prone to getting hacked than others:

  • Bluetooth modules
  • Built-in internet modems
  • USB device ports
  • Wi-Fi internet routers
  • HD Radio
  • Onboard diagnostics
  • Near-field communication devices

Current technology is not the only thing that hackers could break into, however. They could also access personal information on cars. Credit card information is one weak spot, since it is stored via online shopping apps that you use from inside your car. Hackers could also access personal data such as personal playlists, birthdate and address information, frequently visited locations and driving habits.
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Industry Initiatives to Strengthen Cybersecurity

Dealers and automakers are joining forces to provide more certain resources to protect consumers from this increased risk of car hacking. For instance, Tesla and Fiat Chrysler are exploring a program that rewards people who report potential cyber security targets for built-in vehicle technology. GM recently named Jeffrey Massimilla as the brand’s vice president of global vehicle safety and cyber security, to help build its cybersecurity program to produce more secure GM vehicles.

Certain states are also getting on board, creating legislation that enforces the safety of autonomous car technology and other built-in vehicle to technology features. For instance, the U.S. Senate is currently considering being SELF DRIVE Act was already passed in the House.

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The Future of Cybersecurity

As more vehicles incorporate avant-garde technology, it’s crucial that automakers and other companies step up their cybersecurity efforts in the days to come. That way, contemporary consumers can enjoy the latest connectivity and driver experience enhancements while resting assured that their vehicle’s technology is protected and their personal data stays safe.

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News Source: Transport Topics

  • Whitney BurchEditor

    Whitney Burch is a current resident of Dayton, though her spirit can be found beach-bumming on Puerto Rico (the land of her half-Puerto Rican heritage that she has been gifted to visit…and plans on visiting again sometime when the Future deems it practical!). When not adventuring through the exciting world of car news, she can be found hiking with her boyfriend and their growing-up-too-fast Labrador puppy, motorcycling, reorganizing and/or decorating some corner of the world (most likely in yellow), researching random things, scribbling on her blog, and escaping into a great movie, poem, or short story. See more articles by Whitney.