WASHINGTON — As more vehicles roll out built-in wireless Internet connections and remote smartphone apps, U.S. lawmakers want to know how auto companies and federal safety regulators plan to deal with cybersecurity threats.
Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to 17 automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Thursday requesting information about the industry's plans to address cybersecurity challenges.
All "provide a gateway for potential threats," they said in a statement.
"Connected cars and advancements in vehicle technology present a tremendous opportunity for economic innovation, consumer convenience and public health and safety," the lawmakers wrote. "These benefits, however, depend on consumer confidence in the safety and reliability of these technologies."
They noted that threats to vehicle technology "currently appear isolated and disparate," but warned "as the technology becomes more prevalent, so, too, will the risks associated with it."
Among the questions:
• How do federal safety regulators and automakers track or evaluate potential cyber vulnerabilities in vehicles once a product is in the field?
• What steps are being taken to evaluate and address dealer and/or vehicle maintenance infrastructure as a potential "attack vector" for automobiles?
• How secure are over-the-air software updates to upgrade vehicle systems or technology?
Committee leaders are requesting responses by June 11. The letters were sent to Audi, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers are demanding connectivity, but it is still unclear how potential vulnerabilities will be handled.