FBI and NHTSA warn of car hacking vulnerabilities image

In a joint issued bulletin, the FBI and US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said owners and carmakers should be aware of cybersecurity risks triggered by the rising of connectivity techs.

Cars are becoming smarter and smarter as connectivity features are rapidly advancing. Customers are asking for high-tech vehicles and the automakers have to meet this demand, a trend which unavoidably arises security concerns. In a joint public service announcement, the FBI, the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warn that motor vehicles are increasingly vulnerable to hacking. New connected vehicle technologies aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy, and greater overall convenience, but “the FBI and NHTSA are warning the general public and manufacturers – of vehicles, vehicle components, and aftermarket devices – to maintain awareness of potential issues and cybersecurity threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles,” the agencies said in the bulletin.

In a study over cybersecurity issues, which was conducted over a period of several months, researchers managed to hack the car through the active cellular wireless and optionally user-enabled Wi-Fi hotspot communication functions. In a target vehicle, at low speeds (5-10 mph), they were able to remotely perform engine shutdowns, to disable brakes and steering, while in vehicles traveling at any speed, the researchers could lock the doors, turn the signal and manipulate the radio and the GPS.

Last year, in July 2015, Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million US vehicles to install software after a magazine report raised concerns about hacking, marking the first safety cybersecurity action for the automotive industry. There were also many other hacking alarms lately, which made automakers such as GM, BMW or Nissan conduct some software updates to clear some vulnerability problems.