What You Need To Know About Automotive Car Hacking and Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a growing issue, and thus a rising industry in our modern world. Automotive technology is continuously progressing, and as it advances, so does the technology that is made to hack and corrupt the new achievements. The question arises: as the automotive ecosystem progresses into one that is increasingly connected and software based, how will OEMs and other automotive stakeholders better protect the software, information, and most importantly the people in these new connected vehicles?

The answer to that complex question lies within the problem itself. Vehicles will become more secure as the industry learns to increase its offensive and defensive cybersecurity measures and become more assertive against cyber attacks.

What do these cyber attacks against connected cars look like?

While you might visualize a cyber attack against a car to look like a hacker behind a computer screen easily controlling a vehicle miles away with a few taps of a keyboard, the real threat of a cyber attack is a lot more complex.

The modern connected vehicle includes multiple electronic and software components that can be hacked through a cyber attack, and hackers specifically seek out and exploit flaws or vulnerabilities found within the automotive components or software. The connected car elements that are typically hacked include private user data, external connectivity systems, and the vehicle’s internal communication systems; tampering or hacking these elements all impact the hardware and physical workability of a vehicle. In simple words, a hacker can access and even control certain elements of your car if he has the right knowledge and the right tools.

The most common cyber attack is a hack against the electronic keyless systems commonly used in connected vehicles. To unlock or even steal the vehicle, a hacker simply has to manipulate the keyless entry system of a vehicle; thousands of cars were stolen right from outside the owners house because of a cyber attack against the key fob. Another common cyber attack is one against the user data; connected vehicles collect an overwhelming amount of data related to its drivers and the databases where user data is stored have become target for hackers looking to sell that private data online or on the dark web. Private phone numbers, addresses, user login information for car mobile applications, and even GPS locations are extremely valuable commodities for hackers.

What does automotive cybersecurity look like?

The term “cybersecurity” has historically been used to relate to the protection of IT systems and date. However, with the growth of connected vehicles and the related regulations demanding vehicle security, the term has become used in the automotive space as well. Asking about the cybersecurity measures in place when buying a new car is necessary, especially if your car is a newer model or electric/hybrid.

While there seems to be a lot of negative issues related to automotive cybersecurity, the good news is that it’s not just up to you to protect yourself. Car makers and government regulators have also realized the importance of automotive cybersecurity, and recently, new rules and regulations have been passed by the United Nations. The UNECE’s WP.29 regulations will require automotive manufacturers with connected vehicles to follow regulations to protect the customers and:

  • Design cars with the aim to descrease the potential for a cyber attack
  • Send out protective software updates to all vehicles
  • Respond to security issues throughout the full vehicle lifecycle
  • Work hands-on to manage automotive cyber attacks

As everything in life, there are pros and cons to all new technology and advancements. Connected vehicles make our lives easier; they drive safer, have great mobile applications, and are more suitable to a modern world. But, they also are less secure and are more vulnerable to cyber attacks. In order to safely and securely utilize all the benefits that the connected vehicle offers, a cybersecurity solution is necessary to protect the vehicles from the threats against them.