Friday, May 14, 2010

Automotive computer systems could become targets for hackers as they are connected more to wireless

Two teams of computer scientists, under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation, will present a paper next week at a security conference in Oakland, CA, showing that automobile computer systems could become vulnerable to hackers in the future as more of a car’s diagnostic and control systems become (sometimes inadvertently) accessible to the Internet, especially wireless functions. The article by John Markoff on p A14 of the May 14 New York Times is titled “Cars’ computer systems called at risk to hackers” with link here.

With personal computers, major security risks did not materialize until machines were networked and made available globally. The same principle could apply to automotive systems, such as those that control brakes or ignition or acceleration. The article did not specifically connect the concerns to Toyota’s problems. However, someone with malicious intent could cause accidents or mass events.

Richard Clarke discussed this kind of problem in his book “Cyber War” with respect to other infrastructure, such as the power grid; I reviewed it on my books blog on May 1.

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