WASHINGTON, January 14, 2017: As their vehicles implement more high-tech and internet features, automakers are increasingly becoming concerned about the potential for car hacking attacks. They warn that the threat could become more serious as driverless vehicles begin to hit the open road.
Tech experts believe that hackers could infiltrate an increasing number of their latest vehicles. Hackers could gain entry to the vehicle via its built-in infotainment system and take control of the vehicle’s door locks, engine or other key driving features. In 2015, the reality of vehicle hacking was brought to light when researchers successfully hacked a Jeep Cherokee. This led Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to issue software patches to nearly 1.4 million of the company’s car and truck owners.
As the threat of automobile hacking continues to rise, vehicles are now being provided with the ability to wirelessly download secure patches. These updates give automakers the ability to immediately respond to threats and newly discovered security gaps, which is faster than having customers bring vehicles to the dealership.
Automakers were initially hesitant about hacking vulnerability reports coming from researchers and mechanics. To answer that concern, at least in part, FCA launched the “Bug Bounty Program” for its products. The program offers $1,500 each time a white-hat hacker (ethical hacker) discovers a unknown vulnerability in the software currently installed in the company’s vehicles. The auto manufacturing industry also came together to create the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which explores research and best practices for addressing auto cybersecurity issues and vulnerabilities.
The reality of car hacking could grow more serious by the 2020s. That will purportedly be the year when more driverless cares will actually leave testing programs and hit the road. Tesla last summer sent out updates to all Tesla Model Xs after Chinese security researchers managed to turn on a Model X’s brakes remotely. For now, most vehicles appear to be safe to drive. But automakers warn all drivers to be on the lookout for possible hacking evidence in the cars they drive today.
In related news, during the 2018 edition of the Detroit Auto Show Monday, BlackBerry CEO John Chen will announce his company’s new cyber-security product with the goal of protecting data collected by driverless cars.