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So We Hacked Your Car, Bro…

So We Hacked Your Car, Bro…

According to Tripwire, the FBI, NHTSA, and DOT has issued a joint public service message that modern vehicles may be vulnerable to attacks like the one demonstrated on the Jeep Cherokee by researchers last year.

Tripwire’s Security Research and Software Development Engineer, Lane Thames made the following comments in her public service announcement:

“We have seen drastic changes within the technology landscape over the last few years. Moore’s law has enabled us to create very powerful computing platforms, ranging from the smallest embedded system to the largest of supercomputers.

Simultaneously, the laws of economics have enabled these devices to be readily available to the masses in terms of costs. Finally, we have ubiquitous, high-speed access to the Internet. Put this all together and we have what is currently called the Internet of Things (IoT).”

She continued, “As we can see, automobiles are rapidly becoming a part of the IoT. Unfortunately, the security industry is seeing IoT devices of all types come online with very weak and, in some cases, non-existent security features.

There are various reasons for this. Building highly secure systems is hard and sometimes costly. These conflict with manufacturers who want to deliver their products to market fast. Another reason is actually due to how the computing ecosystem is moving from a mostly ‘virtual’ environment to a merged world where virtual things are interacting and controlling things in the world around us.

Particularly, the IoT includes devices that are cyber-physical. A modern, Internet-connected car is a perfect example of a cyber-physical system. It is a thing that used to be based on pure physics, comprised of mechanical, electrical, and chemical systems.

Now, these systems are controlled by onboard computers, and it might not be long before remote computer systems play a role in automotive control, especially with these systems being rapidly connected to the Internet.

The point is that future technology (regardless of what we name it, i.e., IoT, etc.) will demand a holistic, cross-disciplinary approach for the design and implementation of cyber security and its interconnection with technology. This by and large does not exist today.

Until this starts to happen, we will continue to hear about more and more technologies coming online and eventually becoming vulnerable to remote exploits.”

What followed was confirmed by many security firms that Nissan’s LEAF may be a target for hacking. Its air-conditioning and heating systems can be hijacked allowing hackers easy access to take over the vehicle. But that is just the start, as new technology is being introduced in the vehicle markets, we can only imagine how security will co-develop with the IoT in the next decade.

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