Autonomous Vehicle

Car Hacking A Real Risk For Motorists: FBI – Headlines & Global News

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Car Hacking A Real Risk For Motorists: FBI

By Peter de Jesus | Mar 21, 2016 05:52 AM EDT

Autonomous Vehicle

The automotive world is moving toward an era where vehicles are more automated than they are manual driving machines. Of course, for vehicles to be able to manage this, they depend on software and other programs to initiate their functions. With this in mind, however, vehicles might very well be the target of cyber-sabotage, at least according to the FBI.

Hacking vehicles might seem like a far-fetched idea, but one would be surprised. About eight months ago, a couple of security researchers managed to hack into the system of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee while it was driving down a highway in St. Louis. With the vehicle’s systems compromised, the researchers were able to kill the SUV’s transmission.

For the FBI, such findings exhibit a very serious threat. In a public service announcement on Thursday, the FBI, together with the Transportation and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, expressly warned drivers about the risks of network-based attacks on cars and trucks.

“Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy, and greater overall convenience. However, with this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cybersecurity threats,” the announcement stated.

The announcement also outlined the numerous risks that a hacking attack might pose to a vehicle. Among these include several life-threatening scenarios such as cyber-attacks disabling a vehicle’s brakes and steering functionalities.

“Although vulnerabilities may not always result in an attacker being able to access all parts of the system, the safety risk to consumers could increase significantly if the access involves the ability to manipulate critical vehicle control systems,” the announcement added.

Of course, the FBI has also stated that consumers are not defenseless amid the threats of cyber-sabotage, as there are a number of contingencies to address the risks. Among these include keeping a vehicle’s software safe and avoiding any modifications to a vehicle’s security software. The FBI also advises consumers to be very vigilant about connecting third-party devices to their cars, especially those which come from manufacturers that are not very well-known.

Chris Valasek, one of the researchers who hacked the Jeep last year, stated that he believes the FBI’s warning should have been sooner. Nevertheless, Valasek believes that it is better late than never.

“It seems super delayed. But it’s good advice. People take the FBI seriously,” he said. 

Car Hacking A Real Risk For Motorists: FBI – Headlines & Global News