Government Focuses on Cybersecurity Risks Linked to Connected Cars


  • Google Autonomous Car Picture

    Google Autonomous Car Picture

    Self-driving cars can pose cybersecurity risks, experts told a Senate panel on Wednesday. | May 16, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Connected cars are posing new cybersecurity risks and federal safety regulators are putting the issue at the forefront.
  • "With this evolution comes increased challenges, primarily in the area of system reliability and cybersecurity — the latter growing more critical as vehicles are increasingly more connected to a wide variety of products," David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told a Senate panel on Wednesday.
  • Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller asked whether connected cars are "at risk of catastrophic cyber attacks."

WASHINGTON — Connected cars are posing new cybersecurity risks and federal safety regulators are putting the issue at the forefront.

"With this evolution comes increased challenges, primarily in the area of system reliability and cybersecurity — the latter growing more critical as vehicles are increasingly more connected to a wide variety of products," David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told a Senate panel on Wednesday.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller asked whether connected cars are "at risk of catastrophic cyber attacks." He said he worried about the "14-year-old in Indonesia" who could access the computer system of connected cars and create mayhem.

To begin to grapple with these concerns, NHTSA has set up a new Electronics Systems Safety Research Division that will focus on issues related to cybersecurity. Strickland said the new division has the "goal of developing a preliminary baseline set of threats and how these threats could be addressed in the vehicle environment."

"This work will complement and support the agency research to develop performance requirements for automated vehicles," Strickland said.

NHTSA is also developing protocols to support a vehicle-to-vehicle security system "that is designed to share data about nefarious behavior and take appropriate action," he added.

Participants in the hearing, entitled "The Road Ahead: Advanced Vehicle Technology and Its Implications," agreed that the power of technology is already saving lives.

"A golden era of automotive safety is within reach," said Peter F. Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. "The focus must be deploy the connected vehicle technology, while ensuring that it is reliable and secure, and bring about a rapid uptake by automotive consumers."

The university and NHTSA are working on a pilot project in Ann Arbor, Michigan on connected car technology that is designed to prevent crashes.

Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, summed up the concerns this way: "If driverless cars become reality on our roads, just who exactly is responsible for the accidents that may occur?"

Edmunds says: Cybersecurity is a real concern with connected cars. It's a good thing that federal safety regulators are trying to get ahead of the problem.

Leave a Comment
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Marketplace

up2drive

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan


Car.com

Credit Problems?
We can help you get Financing!

ADVERTISEMENT