Detroit Auto Show 2018: Technology in cars could open the door for hackers

Technology experts say with need for self-driving cars to be connected to the internet could open the door for hackers to gain access. (Photo Credit: Drew Moore/WSMH)

DETROIT -- The trends over the past couple of years in the automotive industry mostly revolve around the driverless experience. Nearly every major automaker, excluding FCA, are making a major push for autonomous driving vehicles.

General Motors just recently announced it would have a fleet of self-driving taxi’s in a city by 2019. The cars operate using a combination of wireless connectivity to the internet, radars, computers, and millions of lines of computer code.

The problem according to some engineers is that when you expose your computer to the internet, there’s a chance someone out there is looking to hack into it. To stop that from happening companies need to stay one step ahead of those who are looking to do harm. Blackberry Technology Solutions Group President Sandeep Chennakeshu says people will attempt to hack into a car.

“All software is vulnerable, it’s really a cat and mouse game. As cars get connected to the internet there’s more access to the car. As a result, people will want to try and get into it. Higher end cars will have up to 100 little computers running up to 100 million lines of software. That is a huge area of attack for the hackers,” Chennakeshu says.

The worst-case scenario would be a hacker gains access to a cars computer systems, therefore gaining access to the car itself.

They could hypothetically control the speed or direction of the car, or even something as minor as locking the doors or changing the radio station.

Blackberry, along with Ford and other manufacturers are bolstering their engineering departments to fend off such an attack.

“We have large groups of engineers who work proactively to find holes in the code. We also have incident response teams which will immediately handle any type of issue that arrives and patch the holes,” Chennakeshu says.

He also says that there isn’t a lot the consumer can do to protect themselves because it’s such a complicated problem, and it could change the user experience. So it falls on the engineers designing the code to make sure their security is as robust as possible.

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