US: Consumer Reports seeks federal rules for cars and computers image

Today’s vehicles are often called computers with wheels – and for good reason. The level of technology and computing power housed in our daily rides is unprecedented and anyone having some experience with personal computers knows how important safety against hackers has become.

There are numerous fears and industry questions risen about the ability of new vehicles to be protected from persons sitting behind computers miles away – with official challenges set up for computer hackers to demonstrate how easily someone can gain access to the embedded in-car computer systems. It’s also a week when Hyundai and General Motors made the headlines because of their announcements surrounding the future of models being tied to Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay. So, Consumer Reports has raised its concerns about access into vehicles by hackers in a letter sent to its six million members – in a bid to sound the alarm about what it calls as lax security concerns on the behalf of automakers. “Today’s cars use software and electronics to control everything from air conditioning to brakes, from seat belts to acceleration,” said Chris Meyer, vice president, Consumer Reports, in the letter. “Are those computers secure? Probably not secure enough.”

The Consumer Reports representative said the organization witnessed tests where hackers were able to assume control over a vehicle from the driver – even turning off a car just with the help of a mobile phone. The letter wants to enlist the wide base of Consumer Reports readers in a drive to call for federal regulations to address the security of computers and other electronics inside a vehicle.