As well as more automated and connected vehicles becoming common place in the next couple of decades, one thing that security researchers and many others believe will come hand in hand with it, is car hacking. With that in mind, a lot of auto makers are being urged to champion high security standards for their connected vehicles features. And now one US politician wants those features talked up just as much as physical safety features like airbags and automated braking.
The man pushing for this change of pace is US Senator Edward Markey, who said in an interview that he believes that automakers around the world don’t put enough emphasis on data security and consumer privacy; but they should. His report on the current state of the industry was released just yesterday and it showed that currently a lot of cars are vulnerable to remote security breaches. In the worst instances, some cars could be physically taken over from a remote location using something as simple as a consumer grade laptop.
With that in mind, he’s pushing for tighter corporate control of digital security and for automakers to wear their digital protections as a badge of honour, making it possible for the consumer to make a more informed choice. Ideally he said, we would have a rating system similar to that of current physical crash tests, to show people that this car has X number of stars for digital safety, while this car has Y. It wouldn’t necessarily mean that all cars had to have mandatory safety features, but that those that did could be championed above others in certain ways.
His recommendations couldn’t come at a better time either, as ADAC, Germany’s largest consumer vehicle group, recently published information that suggested as many as 2.2 million AG,Mini and Rolls-Royce cars could be vulnerable to a very specific hack which would allow them to be taken over by neefarious individuals. The reason for this, was a problem with BMW’s ConnectedDrive service.
What people are potentially worried about with car hacking however, isn’t necessarily individual cases, but if someone was to discover such a bug, affected thousands or millions of cars, and then waiting till an opportune time to infect them all at once with a nasty piece of malware, the damage to life, infrastucture and worldwide economies would be catastrophic. It would be a monumental attack on an unprecedented level – therefore it’s something that has to be sorted and Markey’s report may help to get that done.
One firm, GM, has come out to stand with the report and push for its own digital security standards: “Cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a societal issue,” said GM’s Rashid-Merem. “At GM, we take customer safety and security extremely seriously, and we are taking a multifaceted approach for in-vehicle cybersecurity so we can update security as threats evolve.”