Connected Cars Prone To Hacking
Cybercriminals remotely accessing wired vehicles a threat to national security
A consumer advocacy report has declared that new vehicles with connectivity technology are prone to cyberattacks which could disable vehicles and in a worst-case scenario trigger thousands of motorist deaths. Los-Angeles based organization Consumer Watchdog’s report Kill Switch: Why Connected Cars Can Be Killing Machines and How To Turn Them Off revealed that vehicles hooked up to the Internet could pose a threat to American drivers due to their vulnerability to hacking.
“The troubling issue for industry technologies is that these vehicles’ safety-critical systems are being linked to the internet without adequate security and with no way to disconnect them in the event of a fleet-wide hack,” stated the report at one point.
Which Industries Are Vulnerable?
The report doesn’t specifically make any references to how car rental agencies are also vulnerable. To be fair, much of the technology being used by major players like Enterprise, Avis and Budget has been spent on using artificial intelligence to rely on data retrieval from connected cars to improve efficiency, auto maintenance and customer service. But if the report is to be taken seriously, cybersecurity might be one aspect of technology that the car rental industry might warrant greater focus.
Automakers might be wise to take the same advice, stated the report. While manufacturers have been dedicating connectivity to boost the amenities of in-car entertainment, while using its data to further its marketing initiatives, it turns out that there’s been very little attention dedicated to protecting drivers and passengers from cyberhacking. What Consumer Watchdog is aiming for is to get the automotive industry to add a feature that will cut that Internet cord if the vehicle is in any trouble while mobile. In particular, the organization is pushing for the installation of a kill switch to disconnect critical components like the engine, brakes and steering from the web, which could otherwise be accessible to a hacker.
What’s worrisome to Consumer Watchdog is that the top three players in the U.S. auto industry, which consists of Ford, General Motors and Toyota, plan to have all their 2020 models equipped with connectivity features. All this while hackers are having a field day exploiting their ability to remotely gain access to wired vehicles. One YouTube video showed how to hack into a Jeep, while cybercriminals in China demonstrated how they were able to hack into a Tesla.
“Connected cars are now the most serious national security threat we have,” said Jamie Court of the Consumer Watchdog group to NBC News. “If I’m someone who wants to do harm to do harm to America, I forget about the electric grid, I forget about the elections system. I go to your car.”