In today’s connected world, the average person is exposed to as much data in a single day as folks in the 15th century encountered in their entire life.
We’re constantly connecting ourselves via phones, tablets, computers, and now, even our cars.
We all know that our internet-enabled devices can be hacked and our data can be compromised by cyber thieves, but the scary truth is that as our cars become more connected it means they can be attacked too.
In fact, BMW recently discovered and quickly fixed a security flaw in their vehicle remote keys that could have allowed hackers to easily gain access to 2.2 million vehicles worldwide. Even the government is starting to take notice of this increasing issue as well. Just last week, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) released a report about how vehicles are susceptible to hackers and how auto manufactures don’t have the necessary privacy protections in place to safeguard driver information.
As more light is shown on this issue, the question now becomes: Why is my car potentially vulnerable to hackers? And how do I protect myself?
Changing the Conversation
Unsurprisingly, most automakers are putting their energy into improving the entertainment and convenience value of automotive technology, while also focusing on the physical safety of the vehicle (crash test ratings, air bag deployment, seat belts, etc. – which is extremely important!) rather than digital security. Beyond this, there are a number of factors that have hindered auto manufacturers’ ability to put a stake in the ground when it comes to connected security:
1. There are multiple parties involved in building a car.
2. Building cybersecurity into mechanical components is easier said than done.
3. Vehicles are built in a vacuum.
4. Automobile software hasn’t caught up.
5. Cash is king.
6. Security isn’t relegated just to the car.
It’s unclear how long it may take before cybersecurity becomes a major concern for automotive manufacturers or for automakers to be comfortable designing and collaborating with cyber security experts that don’t come from the closed world of the automotive industry. Like most industries that build connected devices, much of the automotive industry has a considerable amount of work to do to add security to their product.
While ‘in the wild’ hacks have yet to affect the connected car industry, consumers can take steps to protect themselves by using caution and commons sense when operating their vehicle. Tips include becoming familiar with privacy settings both in the vehicle and on mobile devices that connect to it, setting appropriate security controls to protect confidential information, such as email, contacts, and payment features, and being aware of suspicious notifications, pop-ups, and other behaviors on the dashboard and infotainment system. Driving a connected car should be fun – and it is! – but it should also be smart.
Read the original article on IBM.
If you haven’t experienced it yet, know that being a victim of high-tech crime is no picnic.
Thieves and thugs will always find ways to take things they did not work for, whether those ill-gotten gains happen to be digital dollars or electronically “protected” cars. The most astonishing thing for me in writing this piece was learning just how vulnerable modern automobiles are to high-tech attack. As much as I love car gadgetry, I’d have to think twice about using my car as an integrated, cloud-connected “hub” for my digital life — an objective many car companies and suppliers seem to be pushing toward. Researchers have already demonstrated the potential, if not yet the real-world threat, of vehicular mischief through on-board computers. I guess it’s worrying news for drivers, but a great development for PC antivirus companies looking to expand!
That said, I think the same advice applies as always: Enjoy the convenience that technology provides, but go in aware of the risks and how you can reduce your vulnerability.