Published on March 6th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


How Close Are We to Driverless Cars? Digital Security Experts Raise Worrying Points

Clearly one of the biggest aim for major carmakers now is the development of autonomous vehicles, or simply known as self-driving cars. Billions have been spent, and more will be invested in order to be ‘the first’. For all intent and purposes, it is the space race all over again.

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But unlike the space race, where only the US and Russia had the technological, financial and political will to compete in, developing a consumer-ready autonomous car depends largely on computing and communications technology already accessible by a large portion of the population. Including those with mischievous intentions. Or worse, nefarious aim.

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With wireless technology and the internet, things can be much scarier.

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Recently Veracode, an application security company in America published the findings of their joint study with IDC which states that security features employed by automotive companies are well behind the potential threat posed by cyber criminals. The study indicates that the time frame is at three years.

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It is projected that the total market for automotive-related Internet of Things in 2016 is worth $140.3 billion. Yet exposing a car to the Internet makes it vulnerable to cyber attack which could render the car unstable or dangerous, such as the 2015 demonstration where a Jeep Cherokee was totally taken over by security researches while driving at more than 110 km/h on a US freeway. The security implications impact vehicle manufacturers, component manufacturers as well as independent software vendors (ISVs), all of whom are racing to keep up with driver demand.

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This study polled 1,000 drivers across the UK and Germany, as well as with in-depth interviews with leading vehicle manufacturers and automotive industry representatives.

Some key findings from the joint Veracode/IDC study includes:

Driver downloaded applications pose security challenge: All manufacturers interviewed reported concerns around the security of critical systems being exposed to applications they did not develop, creating situations where safety of the vehicle would ‘leave the control of the manufacturer’.

Manufacturers should be liable for safety of the connected car: 87% of drivers polled believe all aspects of safety – including resiliency of applications to cyberattack – rests with manufacturers, regardless of whether an in-car application was developed by a software company or the car manufacturers themselves.

Manufacturers do not feel they need to worry about driver data privacy: However, 46% of drivers are concerned over this issue, particularly as applications continue to integrate. For example, as navigation system evolve to find, reserve and pay for parking automatically, the potential for leaking credit card information and other personal data arises.

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So what are your thoughts about the race to plug your vehicle to the web, open to long distance communications, and ultimately able to drive autonomously?

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