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Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Introducing The Hacker Vulnerable Vehicle

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It’s an exciting time to be an auto industry observer, as major manufacturers begin to truly embrace the benefits of technology and what it can do for the average driver. Integrated navigation guides, backup cameras, Bluetooth connectivity, and the ability to make phone calls are all things that can be found in these latest models, ushering in a new era of round the clock connectivity. While many of these systems are highly sought after by Americans in search of cutting edge features, some industry analysts are sounding the alarm that the security of these computerized dashboards may not have kept up with their introduction to the market.

After amateurs demonstrated in 2014 that they could take over the steering and brakes of several models by utilizing a laptop directly hooked up to the vehicle’s computer, questions have been raised about the encryption levels where the internet is built in. The point of this testing was to show that a user with wireless connection could use that link to control the automobile and exhibit malicious behavior without having to be physically present.

The implications of these findings are frightening. Imagining hacker created gridlock, personal attacks, and other potential scenarios is enough to make anyone be skeptical about the benefits vs. drawbacks of embracing the technology. But the good news is that the cyber security industry is finally taking the challenge head on. According to Wired magazine, Ford and Range Rover are leading the pack when it comes to auditing and shoring up the digital defense of their vehicles, with other domestic manufacturers not far behind. Separating key engine components from internet connected entertainment centers has been a key focus, as modern engine typically require computing power but have no need for a wireless system; eliminating a key route of attack.

Despite the threats out there, car models will only continue to add new features brought about by technology. By switching from a reactive to proactive approach, manufacturers and associated vendors can help ensure that vehicles in the future remain a secure form of transportation. We look forward to seeing how this developing field unfolds and what shape it will take in the future!

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