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Threat of car hacking still worrying some automakers

WASHINGTON, January 14, 2017 — Automakers are growing even more concerned of car hacking as vehicles become more high-tech. They warn that the threat could become more serious as driverless vehicles begin to hit the open road.

Tech experts believe that hackers could infiltrate the vehicle through the infotainment system and then take control of the vehicle’s door locks, engine or other key driving features. In 2015, the reality of hacking of a vehicle was brought to light, when researchers successfully hacked a Jeep Cherokee. This led to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) issue software patches to nearly 1.4 million car and truck owners.

As the car hacking threat continues to rise, vehicles are beginning to receive the ability to wirelessly download secure patches. These wireless updates, give automakers the ability to immediately respond to threats and newly discovered security gaps, which is faster than having customers bring vehicles to the dealership.

Automakers were originally were hesitant about hacking vulnerabilities coming for researchers and mechanics.  FCA launched the “Bug Bounty Program” that offers $1,500 each time a white-hat hacker discovers a unknown vulnerability in vehicle software.  Automakers also came together and created the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which discuss research and practices for cyber security.

There have been no reported hacking of vehicles that have resulted in crashes. On Monday during the Detroit Auto Show, BlackBerry CEO John Chen is speaking on Monday and announcing a new cyber-security product with the goal of protecting data collected by driverless cars.

The reality of car hacking could grow more serious by the 2020s, when more and more driverless cares will be hitting the road. Tesla last summer sent out updates to all Tesla Model Xs after Chinese security researchers managed to turn on a Model X’s brakes remotely. For now vehicles appear to be safe to drive, but automakers warn to be on the lookout for possible hacking.

 

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