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.