When It Comes To Automotive Cybersecurity, There Are No Easy Answers

Cars are becoming increasingly high-tech and that has fanned fears they could become an attractive target for hackers. Connected car expert Steve Tengler recently discussed the cybersecurity issues surrounding modern automobiles and he brings up some interesting points.

While the most famous hacking incident occurred a couple of years, Tengler says no one really knows how widespread vehicle hacking is. Most reports come from researchers or white hat hackers who discover vulnerabilities and then contact affected companies and / or publish their findings.

Unfortunately, that’s just the ‘good guys’ and it doesn’t factor in criminals and black hat hackers who are also prodding vehicles for weaknesses. As a result, no one really knows how widespread the hacking efforts are. Instead, we typically learn about successful hacks when police become involved – unusually after a theft.



Another interesting point that Tengler brings up, is how long should automakers provide updates for their vehicles. In the world of smartphones, support can vary drastically by operating system, manufacturer and the popularity of the phone itself. Many companies provide at least two years of updates, but how should it work with automobiles? Do you get updates until your warranty expires or should you expect updates for five years, ten years or somewhere in between.

Even if a possible threat is out there, does it justify the expensive of reprogramming software and then updating countless vehicles? While most people would assume the answer is yes, Tengler notes not all hacks are life threatening. If someone is able to remotely change radio stations or lower the windows, is that an issue important enough to demand that a manufacture fix the problem?

There are no easy answers, but the article is worth a read if you’re interested in the subject.


  • Perry F. Bruns

    Four words: Don’t force us online. .

    • Status

      Four more words: Then don’t drive cars.

      • Perry F. Bruns

        I love tech, but cars can be made better without making them vulnerable. My point stands.

  • Kash

    It’s called blockchain technology. Crypto currencies are already using this tech and I know quite a few automakers are looking to it for Vehicle 2 Anything communication channels with a focus on their autonomous tech.

  • Vern Suesse

    If there was some sort of key that was only made for this vehicle. Humm.

  • CJKnox

    Maybe we should figure this stuff out before we PUT IT IN THE CARS.

    Just a thought.

  • Enter Ranting

    None of this tech is worth the threat of hacking, or the hassle of upgrading every time there’s a new security patch.

  • Wolverine350R

    Why the F can the infotainment system control the whole car? Its bad enough that you would lose most radio and climate features if one went out in most cars.

  • Perry F. Bruns

    You act as if I should care about the automakers’ interests and not my own. Find a coloring book.

    • Status

      Well, you are just an end consumer. What power do you have to prevent yourself from being “forced” online by automakers?

      Mind you, you can only speak for yourself as one consumer, as you most definitely cannot speak for a bloc of consumers.

      • Perry F. Bruns

        I have never pretended to speak for anyone but myself and those who agree with me, hence the “us.” Do you speak for the manufacturers? If so, you should be fired.

        Again, find a coloring book. You’re useless behind a keyboard.

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