Increasingly, internet connectivity is an expectation for numerous everyday devices. As a result, various industries, traditionally unaccustomed to cybersecurity, must now grapple with how to secure their devices in the age of digital warfare and internet crime. The automotive industry is no different. The continued push for vehicle connectivity and autonomy has left many industry insiders and lawmakers wondering if vehicles could be hacked and if so, to what end.
The issue is receiving additional attention this week in Europe thanks to a study conducted by a British consumer group that was able to successfully hack two popular consumer vehicles. The researchers were able to access infotainment units which have control over the car’s traction control, headlights and a trove of personal data including location history.
The researchers note that Europe has strong regulations on safety and emissions but that scrutiny of technological security is lacking. In fact, “Various bodies, including the UN, are working on new connected car regulations, but this won’t come into force until 2021 at the earliest. And even then it won’t be mandatory.”
The same dearth of oversight exists in the United States where manufacturers are, on the whole, relied upon to secure their vehicles. It is doubtful that such a lax regulatory environment will prevail for much longer especially as automation and the accompanying risk inevitably increases. How that regulatory regime evolves will have a significant impact on the industry wide rollout of autonomous vehicles.