Slowly but surely automobiles are becoming computerized. Computers, of course, can be hacked and nothing is scarier than the thought of your car being taken over by an evil hacker with toggle stick.
Most people remember the incident last year in which hackers took over a 2014 Jeep Cherokee resulting in Chrysler recalling 1.4 million vehicles in an attempt to make them “hacker proof.”
Karamba To The Rescue
Israeli startup, Karamba Security, with $2.5 million in funding from YL Ventures and Glenrock, is introducing a car security system designed to foil the “evildoers.”
The Karamba system seals off the car’s infotainment system, GPS device and roadside assistance program to prevent unwanted code from being introduced. Karamba is looking for major partners like Bose, Alpine and Harman International Industries (:HARN/A) to sell directly to automakers.
From Anti-Virus To Auto Security
Symantec’s white paper, “Building Comprehensive Security into Cars," details many of the electronics and sensors in today’s automobiles that require protection.
Cars Become Web Browsers
Automakers know consumers want cars that do more than play music through speakers. They want cars that stream movies over the Internet and create email out of the spoken word.
In addition, the government wants to require vehicles to send messages to each other warning of dangers ahead. All these features create opportunities for hackers.
Industry Jumping In
As a result, the industry is not waiting for legislation. One group, representing Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMCC) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TMD) and others is creating an “information sharing and analysis center” similar to an entity created by major banks to thwart cyberattacks.
Shortly after the Honda/Toyota collaboration, cybersecurity experts in China successfully hacked into a Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLAC) Model S. Now, General Motors Co. (NYSE:GMF) is looking at hacker-repelling systems developed by Boeing Co. (NYSE:BAC) and other defense companies.
Self-driving Slow Down
The net result of all this concern is a push from engineers, safety advocates and even automakers themselves to urge restraint in the development and deployment of the most vulnerable types of vehicles – those that are autonomous.
Is it already too late? Tesla’s autopilot, which enables its cars to automatically steer, change lanes and adjust speed in response to traffic, is already in use. This has led NHTSA’s Mark Rosekind to say that contrary to the fears expressed by some, he sees self-driving cars as saving as many as 30,000 lives a year from highway deaths.
Meanwhile General Motors says it wants to deploy self-driving cars within a few years and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGC) Google is asking Congress to let NHTSA grant permission for the company to sell cars without steering wheels or pedals.