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Two Former Hackers Help Improve GM’s AV Security

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While some companies frown upon criminal track records, others are adopting a fresh perspective. In order to bolster its automated vehicle security program, GM recently hired two former car hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek. Both men now serve as security architects at Cruise Automation, one of GM’s subsidiaries.

A new approach to cybersecurity

Under the guidance of Miller and Valasek, GM might soon strip its AV models of Bluetooth and touch screens to minimize the risk of cyberhacks. The two men believe that most passengers can simply substitute their phone for calls and apps. In place of infotainment system, passengers can use a tablet fastened to the dashboard. After all, if the vehicle drives itself, hands-free calling and other technology will soon become passe.

Besides eliminating in-vehicle technology, the Cruise Automation team is also pursuing a vehicle design which refuses inbound connections. In other words, the AV must ask for external data, before any data can connect with the vehicle’s tech system.

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Current and future directions

Miller expressed pride about the intimidating defenses of the revamped AVs. “We’re going to make it so hard that they’re going to want to hack something else,” he said. Cruise Automation will test out these enhanced security AVs in its ride share models. This strategy eliminates the potential problem of manufacturers trying to sell passenger vehicles that lack Bluetooth and radio.

As a side note, GM is also initiating a program called Bug Bounty to further boost vehicle security. A total of 10 researchers, some of whom have computer hacking backgrounds, will try to uncover bugs in the computer systems of GM vehicles. The company will pay these individuals for each bug that they find.

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News Sources: Detroit Free Press, Yahoo Finance