US senator details auto tech vulnerabilities

Hackers could remotely control vehicle operations as well as steal personal information

Hackers could remotely control vehicle operations as well as steal personal information

SAN FRANCISCO – The computer systems in automobiles are far too vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to a report published Monday by a U.S. senator.

New regulations are required to protect driver’s personal data, the report claimed, because the wireless systems installed in many vehicles do not do enough to deter hackers.

These hackers, notes the report convened by Sen. Edward J. Markey, can obtain information such as a driver’s location or normal routes.

While the technology powering the current flood of automobile innovations has changed how people drive, keeping data secure hasn’t been much of a focus.

After a series of high-profile hackings, however, including an attack last week on the second largest U.S. health insurer, Anthem; and concerns stirred up about online surveillance by the National Security Agency, privacy has become a more hyped issue in the past several years.  

“Drivers have come to rely on these new technologies, but unfortunately the automakers haven’t done their part to protect us from cyberattacks or privacy invasions,” said Markey, a member of the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Even as we are more connected than ever in our cars and trucks, our technology systems and data security remain largely unprotected.”

Markey’s staff polled 16 major automobile manufacturers and found that nearly every vehicle on the market includes wireless technologies that could be attacked. The report also found that measures to protect drivers were “inconsistent and haphazard” across the industry.

“We need to work with the industry and cybersecurity experts to establish clear rules of the road to ensure the safety and privacy of 21st-century American drivers,” Markey added.

Studies have shown that hackers can remotely control an unprotected vehicle. Once inside, a hacker can take control the steering wheel, brakes, headlights, speedometer and other automobile features.

The report urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to create new standards for the protection of drivers.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency