lexus-self-driving-advanced-active-safety-research-vehicle-537x367Technology used in the development of today’s cars

Just as we’re all getting excited about driverless vehicles, a new study by researchers at University of California at San Diego and University of Washington suggests that cars could become victims of cyber-attacks, compromising electric systems and endangering passenger safety.

Vehicles are now connected. And while far less attractive targets than banks and government databases, say researchers, individual cars may be far easier to hack. And hackers may not be motivated by financial gains, but just to prove that they can do so.

This all gives a new meaning to automotive firewalls, no longer physical. They need to protect drivers and passengers from cyber-vulnerabilities. Carmakers are now developing means to secure their vehicles from their own “infotainment” services, blue tooth systems, navigators, and soon their autonomous driving systems.

A hacker might disable the interior and exterior lights, or set the speedometer to an arbitrary speed, or engage the brakes, or disable them, trigger locks set to trap drivers in or out of their vehicles. A hacker might disable a cylinder or kill the engine, activate the airbag, or simply “adjust” the GPS.

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