Cyber security firms weigh in

Technological advancements in the automotive sector are an indication of significant research and investment for better client satisfaction and overall profitability for automakers and related industries and their beneficiaries.

At present, technological advancement is related to the concept of connectivity and being global which entails these vehicles are to be just as plugged into the Internet of things as their operators and passengers are. However, this also presents certain security risks.

Due to the growing problem of hacking and malware, most networked devices have come installed with firewalls and anti-viruses. The same problem could present itself within cars. As such, tech experts are concerned vehicles being driven at the present may be vulnerable to hacking either through the vehicle’s own systems or through applications on their mobile phones.

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This is a particular worry for the researchers that are considering the progress of self-driving technology as a number of models, at present, come available with a certain level of autonomous capability.

Cyber security firms weigh in on car hacking

To show this is a genuine issue, a number of hackers from cyber-security firms have clearly illustrated they can wirelessly access the vehicles which are currently on the market by taking over key functions, such as, braking and acceleration capabilities. Even steering has been compromised in a number of circumstances.

The same sentiment is not entirely shared by the public, though, which is worrying. A survey done by YouGov showed 59 percent of the participants felt that car hacking is a fairly serious problem for new vehicles.  When the respondents of the study, when again asked about the brands they trusted the most to keep them safe, Mercedes and BMW came out on top as they were trusted by about 29 percent of the ones who were surveyed.

Other carmakers such as Citroen and Renault fared less well where only nine percent of the respondents claimed they trusted these brands.

Dan Walton, the Managing Director of Satrak Plant Security, had this to say about the issue, “It’s important that people realize how sophisticated criminals are getting in regards to vehicle crime and thefts — whether plant commercial or private.”

He also referred to vehicle tech and security as an arms race where it is crucial to keep the car makers ahead of advanced criminal organizations that have specialized in undermining vehicle security through the digital elements.It seems that security firms and specialists are the majority of groups that are quite vocal on issues of vehicle security from a software standpoint. This is probably because they spend a sizable amount of time poking holes through the vehicle’s security applications.

Researchers from Kaspersky Lab claimed they were hacking nine variations of car-connected Android applications, and this gave them access to a range of onboard capabilities. According to Kaspersky, they were able to find the vehicles, unlock them and activate ignition in some cases. These are applications which have a user base of millions.

Kaspersky scaled back the threat alert, claiming the current threat from criminal car hackers, as opposed to white hat researchers, is not very significant at the moment. A major reason for this would be the majority of cars on the road have not yet had the level of technology that would make them vulnerable installed. However, this ratio is rising in favor of connectivity within cars which means the situation becomes more precarious with each coming year.

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