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Connected cars pose increased cybersecurity challenges

Release Date:2017-01-11

Johannesburg, 10 Jan 2017

This year the CES 2017 featured a variety of technologies that support the future of autonomous or automated driving, including parking assist, collision avoidance, emergency braking and much more.

This is according to David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, who explains technology has transformed the driving experience through delivering safer, more efficient and comfortable journeys.

However, Emm warns the transformed driving experience comes with new security threats and vulnerabilities, and if left unaddressed, the risks could become very high.

"The automotive industry is facing some tough challenges in terms of cybersecurity. Over the last year, research has shown that connected cars can be hacked and controlled remotely – the researchers achieved this by exploiting a zero-day vulnerability they found in the car's computer system.

"Further, manufacturers opting for a popular platform such as Android face the same security scenarios as mobile devices run on the same operating system, such as malicious applications and perhaps even ransomware. And then, the data gathered and communicated by connected vehicles could be intercepted to reveal private information about the vehicle, its occupants, destinations and more, all of which would increase physical vulnerability," he points out.

To reap the many future benefits of connected automotive systems and vehicles, Emm notes it is critical that the industry is committed to embedding security-by-design from the start of development. This should include installing the latest software in vehicular systems and updating it regularly.

Inga Goddijn, executive VP and MD of insurance services at Risk Based Security, says insurance companies are now able to use connected car technology to access raw data such as acceleration, braking events and general driving patterns in order to determine insurance premiums.

"That information can pose a significant security risk as policyholder databases could now contain not just personally identifiable information but how the driver goes about moving through their day."

"The connected car also puts the insurance industry at risk for a host of new exposures, with the increased reliance they have on software, it also puts the car companies in the spotlight for needing to ensure their vehicles are properly secured from any cyber attacks," asserts Goddijn.

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