Will Hackers Turn Autonomous Cars Into Death Traps?
autonomous car safety

The New World Of Autonomous Cars

An in-depth report by Business Insider Intelligence shows that ten million self-driving cars will soon be on the way by 2020. Proponents of autonomous vehicles state the technology has the potential to benefit society in a variety of ways, from boosting economic productivity to reducing urban congestion.

However, not everyone agrees. Several groups are concerned about the risks that autonomous technology poses to public roads. Many of these groups have expressed serious concerns over the cybersecurity of the so-called fleet of the future.

Are Autonomous Cars A Threat To Public Safety?

Among the biggest hazards that society will face as technology advances in the forthcoming years is cyber vehicle security. It’s an issue about which much is still unknown, even among those operating in the frontier of the sector; vehicle connectivity is a brand new phenomenon and also the technology continues to evolve quickly.

While automobile makers have been in the industry for decades, they are only now entering the market where computer technology is helping to drive and operate cars. Computers have a central role in the convenience and functionality of modern vehicles, including:

  • Apps that start and unlock doors.
  • Video cameras to help with backing up and driving detection.
  • Self-steering capabilities for parallel parking assistance.
  • Running diagnostic tests remotely.
  • Checking battery power levels if the car uses electric power.

As we rely more on technology, we open ourselves up to potential damage from hacking to that technology.

Luckily, a major malicious cyber attack on a vehicle has yet to happen. But the possible risk was illustrated dramatically last year when two white-hat hackers remotely took control of a Jeep Cherokee and cut its transmission on the highway as part of a research initiative. The well-publicized incident prompted Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles.

How Vulnerable Are Self-Driving Cars To Hacking?

The answer to the question depends on what kind of a self-driving car we are referring to and how linked the auto will be to the outside world.

If the vehicle does any significant computations by connecting to the outside world through the cloud, needs some web-connectivity for its functionality, or completely relies on external sensors for making all selections, then yes, it may be susceptible to hackers.

The truth is that any computerized system that comes with an interface to the exterior world is possibly hackable. Any computer scientist knows that it is very hard to create software without any bugs, and as computer programs become more involved they become easier to hack.

Efforts To Make Our Roads Safer In The Future

Last autumn, the Department of Transportation released guidelines for the development of self-driving cars and made cybersecurity section of a 15-point security appraisal of autonomous vehicles.

Society is usually reactive rather than proactive with security problems, embracing serious preventative measures just after a significant incident has occurred.

More significantly, the Auto-ISAC, an industry group of leading auto manufacturers and suppliers, recently released an extensive set of best practices for automotive cyber security. The automakers plan for all these guidelines to serve as the foundation for sector-wide cyber safety standards; they likely also expect that taking the lead here will dissuade policymakers from interceding with strict regulatory demands.

The Road Ahead

There tend to be more unknowns than knowns when it comes to the imminence and severity of automotive cyberattacks. Because a leading malicious attack has yet to take place, it is tough to understand just who’s most likely to perpetrate this kind of assault, how it could happen and the way much damage it may cause.

Autonomous cars will dominate the future public roads, but how secure are they? Find out how easy it is to hack a self-driving car and learn if our roadways will be safe!

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