It used to be that you could secure your car by just locking the door or installing a vehicle alarm. Not any more! As automobiles have gotten more sophisticated, and reliance on electronics and software has grown, new measures are needed to combat bad actors from hacking or otherwise damaging your car.
One of the first innovations of vehicle theft prevention was the car alarm. They’ve been around for a long time and gained popularity between the 1960s and 1990s. When they started being used they were quite effective. When your car alarm went off, you went out to investigate.
However, over time, the propensity of the devices to give false alarms caused users to just disregard the horn going off. Assuming that it was a false alarm. Studies found that by 1997, car alarms had little to no effect in stopping vehicle theft.
A more current and effective innovation in vehicle security is the ghost immobiliser. These devices are installed aftermarket and rely on high-tech security to prevent unauthorized drivers from starting your car. They require a unique code to be entered by using a combination of buttons on your dash. Even if your key is stolen, the thief won’t be able to operate the vehicle. It operates on much the same principle as 2FA on your computer. You have an ID and password (analogous to your key) but a secondary code is required to access your computer system.
New electric vehicles incorporate all types of electronic systems:
● Adaptive cruise control
● Emergency braking
● Lane assist
● Auto lane change
● Parking assist
● Self Navigation
● Hands Free Driving
These systems require the use of cameras, sensors and external connections as well. Your car’s electronic control systems are in communication with each other, and sometime sources outside your vehicle. An example is software updates. These are sent electronically to your car’s various electronic control systems.
All of these systems, come with the vulnerability of being hacked, interfered with or shut down by nefarious actors.
Vehicle manufacturers are aware of these vulnerabilities and are working on solutions. Work is being done to develop international standards for software and hardware encryption and secure electronic communication among electronic control units.
Standardization is the first major step to make cybersecurity a non-negotiable priority for buyers and users of these new technologies.
As a consumer, you should be aware of the potential threats, and what steps your vehicle manufacturer has taken to ameliorate them.