Friday 9 December 2016

Why we need to be told more about how secure our cars really are

Published 26/08/2015 | 02:30

A Google self-driving car on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California (AP)
A Google self-driving car on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California (AP)

Everywhere I've looked this past couple of weeks, I've been bombarded with reports of how easily cars can be hacked into.

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I sort of understand how some scams have worked but there seems to be so many digital avenues nowadays that it can be a bit overpowering at times.

As is so often the case, highly intelligent people are at play here. Luckily some of them are on the right side of the fence and are troubleshooting cars' security.

In a way that's what made their 'benign' attempts all the more frightening. They were 'in' within a few minutes.

Some car companies, understandably, have said their current systems are much better than before and that they take great care to protect the security of their vehicles.

Of course they do. That's a minimum expectation. But I think the day is not far off when this whole area has to become part of the mainstream knowledge surrounding a car.

Usually these days we hear most about the personalisation of new cars and especially their ability to drive autonomously or semi-autonomously. It can be a wondrous experience to see, hear and feel a car 'doing its own thing'.

But it can be at that very juncture of automotive and digital that the hackers find the door to intrusion and interference.

And that's where I think the time has come for automakers to be more forthcoming about their cars' abilities to withstand the threat of being stolen or, as was the case in the US recently, taken over and driven remotely.

Obviously there are things they can't tell us - that is the nature of the business of security.

But I think they need to realise perhaps more quickly than they might have envisaged a year or so ago, that 'hacking' is likely to become a parallel concern for new cars especially.

What do you think?

ecunningham@independent.ie

Indo Motoring

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