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Truly autonomous cars are not far off. So are messages from cybercriminals informing drivers they need to pay $500 in order to start their car.

Advances in interconnectivity will eventually put self-driving cars on the road – but at what cost?

The autonomous vehicle system is a massive undertaking involving millions of connections and endpoints in the public and private space. But, as history has shown us, as interconnectivity increases so does system vulnerability. As the marketplace continues to prime for a full introduction of truly autonomous vehicles, there is a real need to assess and prepare for another upturn in cyberattacks.

This is what researchers into the topic have to report: Once hackers get into your internet-connected car, they could disable the air bags, brakes, door locks and even steal the vehicle. That’s the finding of researchers who uncovered flaws in the way the different components of a connected car talk to each other.

Adding autonomous systems that make cars partly or fully self-driving means the vehicles also have to connect to other cars and infrastructure on the road. This, of course, opens up what was traditionally a closed system to outside, malicious influences.

Car hacking is already taking place, and this is before the super connectivity era of autonomous vehicles. There have been cyberattacks using cars’ Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and radio frequency (RF) on passive key entry systems, which all create possible entry points for hackers.

Besides increased entry points of attack, the sheer volume and variety of data and content stored and used in a vehicle is ever increasing. This is the type of thing that attracts cybercriminals.For example, a car’s multimedia GPS system could contain contact addresses, information about the driver’s usual routes and, in the future, even financial data.

Forensic digital investigators and cybersecurity professionals agree that one of the best ways to protect connected cars from this growing threat is by building security into the design of the vehicles – that is, ensuring that there are no conflicts, errors or misconfigurations in individual components.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers Car Cyber Threats and Digital Forensics Training, a 3-day course that focuses on vulnerabilities in autonomous and semi-autonomous systems, embedded systems, tools, techniques, strategies and procedures to analyze and design. 

Additionally, Tonex offers nearly 400 classes, seminars and workshops in close to four dozen categories of systems engineering training.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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