Auto System Security Weak

Thursday, September 8, 2011 @ 03:09 PM gHale

As cars become more electronically involved and form their own mobile network connected to various servers across the globe, the automotive industry needs to focus on the security of installed systems.

There are potential dangers behind the embedded devices used in most automobiles parts, according to a new study entitled “Caution: Malware Ahead” by McAfee in partnership with Wind River and ESCRYPT.

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Airbags, anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability control and autonomous cruise control are just a few of the components that could malfunction due to outside tampering, the report said.

“As more and more functions get embedded in the digital technology of automobiles, the threat of attack and malicious manipulation increases,” said Stuart McClure, McAfee senior vice president and general manager.

“Many examples of research-based hacks show the potential threats and depth of compromise that expose the consumer. It’s one thing to have your email or laptop compromised but having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety,” he said.

In the rush to add new features, auto makers overlooked security, according to the report. Features like Internet access from inside the vehicle increase the risk of a third party hacking into the car’s electrical systems.

Other technologies mentioned relate to the ability to remotely start, stop or unlock a car, the possibility of tracking a driver’s locations and activities, and the theft of information using Bluetooth systems.

“The auto industry is experiencing a convergence of consumer and automotive electronics,” said Georg Doll, a Wind River executive. “Consumers are increasingly expecting the same experiences in-vehicle as they do with the latest connected consumer and mobile devices. However, as the trend for ubiquitous connectivity grows, so does the potential for security vulnerabilities.”

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