SBT Car News

Cyber warfare for cars – the upcoming threat!


The time has come when there is new domain of conflict apart from air, naval and land. Space and cyber warfare has set its foot on ground and have disrupted the lives of many in different ways. According to a research as the number of people who have access of internet will increase the hackers will increase by 20 fold. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka did exactly that. They hacked and began controlling one of Intalsat’s satellites for the disbursement of their own propaganda. Thus, nuclear power plants in Iran and satellites in space are hack able, what about automobiles?

The mid segment cars of today’s time have more than 70 electronic control unit (ECU’s) and high speed internet connectivity. Premium cars on the other hand have double the number of ECU’s. Certain vehicle such as Telsa is quite much into connectivity and provides even over the air updates. Cyber security therefore has become an important security concern in the automotive industry. The researchers have highlighted different complicated scenarios such as turning off engines, taking over steer control, disabled brakes or denial of services. There are two possible threats with car hacking. The first being taking control of the car and its critical functions and the other threat is intrusion of buyers’ profile that is provided for record keeping.

Smaller companies might ignore the repercussions. But many large companies understand the threat and its consequences well. There is a lot at stake for car companies, ranging from brand image to protecting intellectual property and ultimately protecting its customers. Car companies need to look beyond the traditional automotive industry and learn how aerospace and IT industries protect their assets. Car sellers also need to communicate with each other to go for a few set of mutual standards,for instance the PCI standards in the payments industry. These minimum sets of standards should form a basic framework, on top of which companies can develop a specialized solution to help them in competitive differentiation.