How We Will Stop Autonomous Car Hackers of the Future

Future cars in Germany will be autonomous EVs – the biggest challenges faced by autonomous vehicle owners in Europe and the rest of the world will be hackers.

Germany will have a million hybrid or battery-electric vehicles on the road by 2022 according to a government sponsored report. Moreover, three of the country’s automakers, BMW, VW and Audi have been testing autonomous vehicles in China according to an article in the Financial Times. Therefore it is obvious that the future of cars in Germany will be EVs that are autonomous. These would potentially help get rid of traffic jams and protect the environment. They will also come with their own challenges. The biggest challenges faced by autonomous vehicle owners in Europe and the rest of the world are hackers.

Car theft by hacking

Conventional car thieves have to use a variety of methods to physically get into your car and drive off with it. In the future, they may be able to steal your car from the comfort of their homes or a cyber cafe in a foreign country. All a hacker would need to do is hack into a cloud-computing database or a car’s communication device.

There are several other entry ways a hacker can use because the car retrieves and transmits data from surrounding cars to navigate safely on the road. A number of vulnerabilities can emerge from this back and forth sharing of data through the internet or Bluetooth. Right now hackers can take over computers remotely and control them, and it is possible that they will be able to do the same with computerized autonomous vehicles of the future.

A computerized offense as defense

Even if the vehicle has some kind of gateway protecting it, all it may take for a hacker to get through is a bug in the car’s software.  There is also the fact that the components used in an autonomous vehicle would be from other manufacturers whose software may be easy to breach. This would only heighten the risk of hacking. A computerized offense as defense can involve using machine learning to detect possible attacks against autonomous vehicles in real-time.

If something that seems like an attack is detected by AI, it will signal for cyber security experts to quickly step in and investigate what is happening, or it can signal the vehicle owner to take certain precautions.  Artificial intelligence can be used for cyber security because it can build a profile of the car’s operation based on the data collected during the car’s normal operation. Another way to protect the vehicle is by making sure that all connected devices used by the vehicle occupants are safe from online attacks. For example, you can use VPN on the phone that you have connected to your vehicle and the internet as a security measure.

Finding the hackers

Finding hackers that have cracked into your autonomous car’s computer code is extremely difficult and can take several months. Hackers usually make the extra effort to protect their identities and can operate in several different locations. So, focusing autonomous car’s cyber security strategy on tracking them down can be a waste of both time and money.

Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, and all experts can do is to try and identify possible future cyber security threats, and how they can be handled using current technology. It is possible that technology will emerge that will make autonomous cars extremely hacker proof or more vulnerable to hackers.

Jennifer Dawson

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