Concerns over Cyber Attacks in cars

Last Friday we published an article that looked to the future of car manufacturing – namely cars which will be fully autonomous and able to drive themselves. Whilst it may take at least another five to ten years to see some of the technology we discussed, there is no denying that cars are becoming more and more reliant on electronics, and computers are now installed as standard in many modern cars.

Now we have heard that there have been concerns that one day cars could become the victim of ‘cyber attacks’: where criminals will be able to override the vehicle’s computer and even bring the entire car to a halt. The study, undertaken by researchers from the University of California San Diego and University of Washington, raised concerns such as whether someone would be able to access a person’s car via Bluetooth or GPS and then take control over the vehicle. The researchers stated that even though this has not happened yet, if it does happen in the future it could be extremely dangerous as it could lead to road accidents and loss of life.

Hans Roth, director of technology marketing at the car audio and entertainment supplier Harman, said: “We are very much aware that we have to build firewalls into systems. As vehicles gain WiFi hotspots… there are more and more intrusion possibilities. We don’t want that kind of thing to happen and that [the car] is being hacked.” Meanwhile, Dirk Hoheissel, board member responsible for automotive electronics and car multimedia at Bosh, said: “Currently I don’t think we have an issue – because we have only internet connections to the infotainment system that displays information – it’s not really going deep in the architecture of the car… But in the next years we will have to discuss the issues that could come up.”

Motor insurance providers will also have to keep in mind that technology in the future will need to be protected by new software that will be akin to what we currently use for desktop computers today, and we could start to see more companies entering the market offering security features for cars. Even though it is unlikely that this will happen for a number of years, it is good to hear that companies are taking the safety of their customers seriously, and that whilst developing new technologies safety is of the utmost concern.

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