One of the major obstacles connected car experts are facing is the issue of hacking. This becomes especially important with the development of self-driving cars. There simply must be a very tight lid on hacking or future crimes and/or catastrophes will surely be inevitable through ominous computer geniuses. Ethical hacking on a large scale is the best preventative measure for this scenario.
Photo Credits: Ali Eminov’s Flickr
Connected vehicles are vastly becoming an integral part of society in the form of passenger vehicles, transport vehicles, buses, farm equipment etc. They will quickly become significant in our production, manufacturing and delivery mechanisms, thus leading to major catastrophes in the event of successful hacking.
In addition, these connected vehicles are privy to computerized features such as traffic jam assisting, reducing carbon emissions, navigation and various safety monitoring systems. Steering, acceleration and braking will all be controlled by a connected computer system.
They will be relying on connectivity through multiple avenues such as WiFi, mobile data links (3G & 4G), Bluetooth and other wireless technologies.
Ethical hacking is of the utmost importance so that hackers don’t gain access and control of these features or use driver information for commercial purposes without the drivers’ consent.
Will Ethical Hacking Become a Necessary Occupation?
The answer can only be a resounding yes. It already has. BT has a service called Assure Ethical Hacking for Vehicles that tests the vulnerability of connected vehicles to cyber-attacks. Their team consists of a group of security specialists who intentionally hack into systems doing mock hacker attacks. This helps them find vulnerabilities and make recommendations for improvement. While the company has performed penetration testing for years, they’ve now transitioned into providing this service specifically for the connected car industry.
As technology improves, so will hackers. This indicates that ethical hacking is a vital resource for the industry. The service will also offer ongoing support to maintain security against new and evolving hacker threats. This will ensure that self-driving cars remain safe throughout their lifetime.
The Testing Process
Ethical Hacking for these cars will include a series of tests that focus on the ‘attack surfaces‘ of the vehicle. They’ll cover interfaces within the cars such as Bluetooth links, USB ports, DVD drives and external connections, such as power plugs and mobile network links.
BT intends to provide top-notch security through testing and verifying any systems that communicate with connected cars. The focus will be on detecting vulnerabilities that enable hackers to alter configuration settings and block efforts of malware infiltrating into the cars’ systems. Some of the systems that need close monitoring because of their communication with connected cars include infotainment providers, laptops of maintenance engineers and several other supporting systems.
Right now, cars contain various embedded systems that aren’t yet designed to be connected to the outside world. BT states that the connected car industry needs to join forces with suppliers, IT security specialists and certification bodies and organize a common method of enacting security standards for the connected car industry.