Hacking risks grow as more self-driving cars hit the road

In 2019, researchers found that if 20 percent of automated vehicles were stopped remotely, an area like Manhattan could grind to a complete halt. Indeed as experts prepare for a world where connected cars roam the streets, they are forecasting increased risk for major security breaches.

Semi-autonomous Tesla Model S

They’re more and more intelligent and increasingly autonomous, but connected cars are also driving in the hackers fast lane. With rollout of 5G technology, taking control of a vehicle remotely is becoming child’s play for the more seasoned cyber criminals.


According to Romain Lecoeuvre, director of ‘Yes We Hack’, there are some really simple things through which you can control a vehicle, for example there is a control unit that costs around $200 and with a simple antenna, you can connect to the radio software.

The threat is far from new, the company Upstream Security says that over 260 security breaches on the vehicles have been reported in the past decade, with the quarter of attacks exploiting mobile apps or cloud service. In 2015, for example, two security researchers showed how easy it was for hackers to take control of the Jeep Cherokee using the car’s online entertainment system. A revelation which prompted Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles.

The car industry is taking this seriously, the manufacturers now factor in cybersecurity from the very first blueprint stage of design. Five years ago the Israeli company GuardKnox was setup to find solutions. Its CEO believes potential hacking scenarios could be extreme. He gave an example of a large truck that carries fuel, and the hacker is penetrating this truck, takes control of it and throws it into the ditch, or drives it into a certain building, it could be 911 on wheels.

With the risks so high, automobile security experts say that when we go car shopping in the future, we should be thinking less about the look we want, and more about the likelihood our chosen vehicle will be hacked. Because in next three years 775 million cars out and about on our roads could be connected, and the growing number of them will be autonomous.

Contact the author: dominicwood@wheelsjoint.com


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