Today’s state-of-the-art vehicles comprise a host of internet devices to make driving experiences unparalleled. The conveniences we gain from technology are exceptional. However, they also make vehicles vulnerable to hacking and other cybersecurity breaches.
Most drivers are familiar with systems that run GPS or playlists, but internet devices in cars do much more than that. They have evolved to monitor and control most aspects – from vehicle functions like brakes, steering, and even the engine.
Comprehensive Automotive Cyber Security, and why we need it
Without comprehensive built-in protection systems, hackers can steal data or take control of a vehicle. Having your data stolen is just the tip of the iceberg. Hackers can carry out remote attacks on a car from their laptop even as passengers are driving miles away. They can even take over vehicles by tracking GPS locations or manipulating essential functions like steering, brakes, and engines.
Automotive vehicle cybersecurity is critical to keep both cars and passengers safe. As an essential aspect of vehicle manufacturing and ownership, security should rank high as a priority for consumers, carmakers, and OEMs everywhere.
Automotive Cyber Security: What it means
So, what comprises excellent automotive cybersecurity? At the outset, vehicle safeguards must be comprehensive and cover every possible base. Protecting in-vehicle systems and drivers should be part of the fabric of car manufacturing and not an afterthought.
Vehicle cybersecurity means having established defences from any of the following scenarios:
- Prevent anyone from stealing data and communications, ranging from smartphone data while connected to Bluetooth or GPS locations
- Prevent hackers from controlling vehicles or inserting malware
- Ensure nobody can damage vehicles through the manipulation of internet systems
- Check authentication and maintain control over who can have access to data
Types of Automotive Cybersecurity Attacks
Knowledge and staying alert are half the battle won to keep vehicles safe from attacks. Hackers exploit numerous weak links that can allow them access to your auto system. Listed below are some of the commonly-used methods hackers can employ to access vehicles.
A physical attack occurs when someone has physical access to your vehicle – say at a repair shop or if someone breaks into your car. In a physical attack, people generally install hardware or software enabling them to control your vehicle when you drive it later.
Wireless attacks breach a vehicle’s systems through WIFI, GPS, Bluetooth, or cellular phone technology. Hackers do not need any physical access to your car.
Indirect Physical Vulnerability
Indirect physical attacks use mediums like firmware updates, USB devices, or SD cards to access vehicle systems. For instance, attackers can trick unsuspecting vehicle owners into plugging in a USB or MP3 player infected with malware.
The Bigger Picture for Automotive Cybersecurity
At a policy level, government and regulatory bodies should ensure tighter standards for data safety and privacy. For automotive cybersecurity to be effective, it needs careful consideration and a multi-layered approach – not one where solutions come together at the eleventh hour. Additionally, safety solutions should not only identify but report attacks and fraudulent data.
With automation fast becoming the way of the future, the number of connected cars in the market will exponentially increase. Doing so without effective security mechanisms is a dangerous prospect. It is in the interest of car companies and OEMs to ramp up their authentication and safety mechanisms. Whether to save face or even costs, enhancing safety systems is a win-win for everyone.
What you can do to ensure Vehicle Cybersecurity
While carmakers and OEMs should do more for enhancing safety measures, simple steps as car owners can go a long way to keeping vehicles safe.
- Ensure you change the default password on your vehicle to something unique. Only you should have access to this password
- Update software on your automobile to ensure you have the most updated protection. Download these updates only from licensed and trustworthy sources
- Turn on the GPS only when required to prevent GPS Spoofing via radio signals
- Stay up to date and familiarise yourself with the autonomous systems in your vehicle. Take note and act immediately if something seems out of the ordinary