By Auto Tech Outlook | Thursday, April 25, 2019
Road safety and cybersecurity coincide with the millions of connected vehicles used by businesses as well as individual consumers around the world. Because many vehicles rely on wirelessly connected sensors to run these systems, there is an increased risk of compromise. Most vehicle threats include manipulating the boot software, so the car does not start or setting the altitude to zero in a GPS so that it persists to crash—these possibilities offer drivers convenience, performance, and safety benefits, but in some instances, they can also make drivers vulnerable to a new range of units.
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Hardware and software vulnerabilities that make connected vehicles "smart" may leave an opening for criminals who may attempt to destroy information or even remotely take control of the car that may pose a serious threat to physical security. Cybersecurity advancements can quickly identify and alert drivers to suspicious activity can assist connected vehicle owners face tough threats in an evolving world. Like computers and mobile devices, zero-day vulnerabilities can affect the safety of connected cars—and in recent years, many of these vulnerabilities were identified. Last May, a group of Tencent Keen Security Lab researchers discovered 14 vulnerabilities in connected BMW cars that could permit unauthorized access to vehicles, either locally or remotely.
Unlike other malicious actions against vehicles, like tire slashing or carjacking, under-surface hacking of connected cars can happen, undetectable to the driver until the actual damage is done. Experts in cybersecurity are fighting technology with technology, using tools like firewalls, virus scanners, malware removers, and even artificial intelligence to hold user systems protected. A security tool for connected cars, called vXRay and developed by SafeRide Technologies, uses explicitly AI to detect potential cyber-infection symptoms by monitoring vehicle data—such as sensor values and activation commands—and flagging abnormal behavior that strays from the activity baseline. VXRay tracks the internal network of the vehicle, where communication takes place between the various components and the outside world. Any abnormalities detected by the automatic system can then be left in the hands of the security operations center of the car, where the data can be examined, possibly bringing the root of the problem to light—including any unpatched vulnerabilities.
Because of security concerns and the huge financial investment, it is traditionally slower for the automotive industry to embrace new technologies. This leaves a widening gap between the range of possible threats and the number of cars using security measures.