A Future Car May Be Protected From Hacking By Software Developed In San Antonio

“Cyber security is one of the most serious challenges we face and we need to make it an industry priority.”

By Paul FlahiveFebruary 3, 2017 9:55 am| ,

From Texas Public Radio

Someone looking to hack into your car probably isn’t trying to steal from your bank account…but the results could be far more damaging.

[Sound of grinding] “OK, hold on tight…hold on.” [sound of impact] “Oh, Bleep!”

That’s WIRED magazine‘s Andy Greenberg being gently driven into a ditch by a couple of hackers. These guys could cut his breaks, turn off his transmission turn on or off just about every function while they sat in a living room, all by hacking into the computer for the car’s entertainment system –a system called Uconnect–and installing a software update.

Chrysler issued a recall on all 1.4 million vehicles affected by the above hack and issued a software patch. Car manufacturers are starting to take this seriously. Here’s GM CEO Mary Barra at a tech summit last year:

“Cyber security is one of the most serious challenges we face and we need to make it an industry priority,” she said.

Modern cars have between 50 and 100 electronic control units or computers that run everything from your dome light to your automatic transmission, and as cars become more complex they need to be updated.

“If you can exploit an update system, it is like the golden entryway,” says NYU Professor of Engineering Justin Cappos. Many of the computers are networked together, but made by different vendors. Without many cyber security standards, he says it is getting easier and easier to hack car computers.

Right now, it’s researchers who are doing it, “But it would not surprise me if we saw people with more criminal intent or nation-state actors start to launch these kinds of attacks in the near future,” says Cappos.

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