Most recent, a Jeep Cherokee was brought to an abrupt halt wirelessly by hackers and GM’s OnStar smartphone application was deemed vulnerable by another cybersecurity expert.
This goes a long way into showing how wireless networks – the same ones that make possible the existence of our already mundane smartphones – might be the feeble link in the new generation of high-tech autos. This means there’s a whole new breed of security experts coming up with over the air updates to rule out malicious threats and intrusions. Consumers now take for granted the latest features present in a modern automobile – from constantly updating driving instructions from the navigation system to on-board restaurant guides – but all these require a complete and constant connection to the Internet via a telecommunications network. And said link is also the one making autos vulnerable to security hacks much in the same way computers at home and at work are invaded. “The Jeep case was a great example of how it’s not about the vehicle itself, but the network,” said Thilo Koslowski, an automotive-technology analyst at Gartner Inc. “Once these systems are connected to the outside and start to talking to each other, that’s when the problems start.”
The Jeep hack prompted an unprecedented recall from Fiat Chrysler after the most recent hacking demonstrations proved the experts have made the jump from using a direct, physical link to the cars’ diagnostics ports to over the air invasions. While Internet service providers have a built in limited technical ability to manipulate any users’ machine, wireless operators have massive control over the devices in their networks, enabling cars to function more akin to smartphones – where hardware and software makers collaborate closely to the network operators to ensure flawless functionality.