The issue of cyber security has rose to prominence over recent years. This also applies to the automotive industry, with car hacking attracting a large amount of media attention. Awareness of the need to secure vehicles, and the fact that vehicles on the road are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hacking, are stimulating such talk. It is not just within the car itself where vulnerabilities exist, but also the back-end IT systems to which they connect. Moreover, the security of manufacturing plants is also a growing concern, in relation to both vehicle integrity and production line availability.

Increasing number of vulnerabilities

Even though it’s impossible to know exactly how many vehicle hacks have taken place to this point, there is an increasing number of vulnerabilities being discovered. Multiple ‘white hat’ hackers have made discoveries over recent years, which have been made known to auto makers, in a warning to create appropriate software patches against potential future threats. As more new models are introduced to the market, with increasingly sophisticated features, the threat is only likely to amplify.

Variations of the threat

It’s imperative to do whatever is necessary to protect your vehicle against cyber threats. Some successful hacks may not seem safety critical, such as being able to put down your windows, but there are those that are. For example, it has been known for a cyber criminal to be able to control your steering wheel, which is of course a significant danger to all concerned. Furthermore, it’s not just your vehicle that can experience complications, but another vehicle which has had their system compromised. If that happens, it’s possible that everyone in proximity with that vehicle is also at risk.

Lack of government enforcement

Despite the threats being so significant, the government is unable to enforce cyber secure designs for new vehicles being produced. One reason for this is that the cyber security landscape is ever-evolving, meaning it would likely outpace the regulations introduced. Additionally, it’s feared that any specific requirements would act as a blueprint for hackers moving forward. The most that can be done is ongoing vehicle monitoring and protection, but this has several limitations and difficulties.

Automotive cyber threats are increasing, meaning protection must be an ongoing priority at every stage of the vehicle life cycle.