Car Hacking: A Major Concern States DARPA


Google, Apple and several other companies are working on self-driving vehicles that will change transportation as we know it. A growing, valid concern is the possibility of smart vehicles being hacked.

News from 2011 showed that Nissan Leaf had a system that would display an RSS feed with the vehicle’s speed, location and direction being displayed. The bug was quickly fixed, but vehicle technology has grown since 2011. Voice recognition, and automatic steering and braking are a few of the features of concern. Corvette recently released a video recording option in the model’s 2015 lineup.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek performed hacks last summer demonstrating the ability to overtake a vehicle’s steering, braking and also recording components. The duo went on to rank automakers to see how serious they took their security. Audi was the only automaker that passed the group’s hacking attempts.

Further studies have been shown by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency known as DARPA. A demonstration took control of a reporter’s vehicle. The stunt proved that DARPA could engage the vehicle’s brakes and actually guide the vehicle.

Hacking concerns grow as the number of attack surfaces rise. Hackers are now able to target Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to take control of a vehicle. But DARPA has stated that the stunt they demonstrated has not been duplicated by another entity as of yet.

Automakers are urged to take security measures more seriously to prevent the potential hijacking of vehicles. A few of the measures mentioned in the study were the use of encryption and basic security protocols. Researchers indicate that patching software in an automobile will need to be done through cellular technology, which is also a concern. Multiple layers of systems pose a further threat and add to the possibility of vulnerabilities as many systems are made by numerous companies and not in-house.


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