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Cyber-security in the Connected Car Age



Recently a Chrysler Jeep was wirelessly hijacked, its connected car and core control systems commandeered and controlled remotely. 

The culprits were just two cyber-security researchers, testing the feasibility of digital carjacking. But the implications were frightening, for both the drivers of high-tech cars and their manufacturers, who have been rushing to stuff consoles with computers and connectivity.

As more connected cars roll off assembly line and forecourts, we all might become vulnerable to nefarious attacks, which could seize control of our steering, braking and other essential driving operations, in a high-tech version of the 1994 film Speed. Currently, 26.5 million cars worldwide are connected to the internet, a figure that is expected to more than triple, to 82.5 million by 2022. By that time, 78% of the vehicles sold every year will be internet-equipped, compared to just 30% today.

IHS Automotive has been tracking the growth of connected cars and the rising cyber-security threat against them and suggests it will be one of the toughest challenges faced by the auto industry in the next two decades. Governments are already reacting to that threat, with the US’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expected to release cyber-security guidelines for auto manufacturers this year.

IHS Automotive has said that eventually all connected vehicles will need to be secured with both perimeter cyber protection and operational cyber protection,

The perimeter protection at all wired and wireless access points will check and ensure all incoming data and software are safe and originating from a legitimate source.

However, that perimeter security can never be 100% fail-proof, so the vehicles will also need a robust operational security system, monitoring the messages exchanged between the computer systems of the vehicle and comparing them to a database of valid messages in order to flag and stop suspicious behaviours and commands.

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