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Cybersecurity On The Road: Is Carhacking A Threat?

Automakers have come a long way when it comes to auto safety.

Now, safety advocates believe that there’s a new threat that could make it difficult for car owners to feel secure while behind the wheel: carhacking.

Analysts believe that because most new vehicles are equipped with fully electronic systems and features like Ford SYNC and OnStar, hackers could get into the vehicle’s computer and have the car unlocked, deactivate the starter and even make the engine unusable.

Some believe that with time, this type of hacking will become easier to perform, which could expose drivers to serious dangers.

Since there aren’t any rules concerning cyber safety when it comes to the automobile industry, analysts believe this could present a serious issue to drivers. Systems linked to the brakes could also be affected if the car’s system is hacked, experts say. The lack of guidelines concerning automobile cyber safety means that regulators can’t do much when it comes to the risks consumers could be exposed to if a car computer is hacked.

According to an official statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the potential dangers linked to carhacking issues has been discussed by federal agents. Media outlets say that the NHTSA agency hasn’t learned of any incidents linked to auto and cybersecurity up to this moment. Once reporters asked the agency about the potential risks, the federal agency referred to the previous statement, which does not indicate the federal agency is working to develop cybersecurity recommendations for automakers at this moment.

Recently, a former employer of an auto dealership was capable of remotely deactivating the ignition systems of several customers’ vehicles in Texas. A study showed that hackers are capable of infiltrating computers that be traced back to every single aspect of a vehicle’s functionality. Intruders may have access to features like entertainment consoles and speedometers.

Some believe that regulating cybersecurity on the road could be frustrating because the process may lag mostly because it would face an ever-morphing series of threats.

Technology experts are still looking into these issues while safety advocates have been urging the federal government to do something in order to create a list of recommendation and standards that would make automakers aware of certain steps they should take to potentially avoid accidents in the future.

To learn more about the potential risks linked to cybersecurity on the road and what federal agencies are doing about it, click here for the full report.

About the Author
The Vachon Law Firm is based in Southern California and focuses exclusively on consumer protection litigation.