With each innovation comes a glitch that could potentially disrupt the workflow we’ve come to depend on. CAR HACKING is a testament to this reality and legitimate 21st century fear—given the increase in digitized roadsters and talks of unmanned ground vehicles reforming the automotive industry. Modern consumers have learned that anything digital can be compromised. Auto manufacturers know this, too, but have admittedly slacked in developing the architecture needed to secure their products. This leaves room for the specter of malware to listen in on our conversations, steer our vehicles remotely, or even cause them to crash.
It all points back to the Internet of Things (IoT), interchangeability, and the pros and cons of an interconnected system. Just imagine it taking just a single computer worm to turn your car and its navigation system into a weapon against you. If Tesla was the first to equip its cars with “over the air” software updates (a practice it began in 2012), and Android since powering our dashboards as if they were smart phones, then make no mistake about it. Our cars are vulnerable and car hacking is real!
What Car Hacking Entails
A modern car with a fully integrated computer system is susceptible to hackers and malicious software. If either were to take control over your car, they’d could manipulate the opening and shutting of your windows, toggling of your door locks, and operation of your entire brake system. Even your steering system could be compromised and controlled from afar, or by swinging your car’s Global Positioning System (GPS). Auto industry experts are beginning to consider these possibilities as serious threats to the safety of those who finance and purchase their Internet-connected vehicles.
The saving grace, so far, has been the fundamental difference between the personal computer (PC) and onboard system of an electric car. There simply aren’t many ways for a hacker to infiltrate these systems for significant access or control. But this is changing as interfacing with the Internet, or even with social media sites like Facebook, becomes more commonplace. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are popping up everywhere, and its only a matter of time that our vehicles will be able to connect and communicate with other vehicles. This increases the likelihood of car viruses and entry points for persistent hackers.
Solutions for Protecting your Electric Car
Automotive companies are currently working to augment the security of hardware and software components in electric cars. The ability to patch and update software remotely, like Tesla is doing, could be an effective measure in forestalling attempts to compromise a vehicle’s computer system. For example, Argus, a pioneer in automotive cybersecurity, helps original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) protect their devices against cyber attacks. They also help them comply with cybersecurity regulations and standards.
Customers, too, are made aware of the threat landscape concerning private and commercial vehicles, and are proactively engaged to strengthen their cyber preparedness. This helps them navigate any emerging regulations and manage costs associated with risks and vulnerabilities. Add to this an experienced, emergency response team for near real-time cybersecurity assistance and you have a basic, albeit workable, remediation process.
Will the dilemma of car hacking ever warrant antivirus software specifically for electric vehicles (EV)? That remains to be seen and, truthfully speaking, opens another can of worms (no pun intended). But just because there are no striking threats at present does not mean there aren’t any on the horizon. If hacking humans is possible then so are the tools we use and depend on. They say “being forewarned” is the same as “being forearmed.” Our planet is groaning from an inefficient transportation system. The computerization of this industry is likely the only way forward, making cybersecurity for vehicles an absolute necessity.