Writing for Forbes, Sarwant Singh warns that coordinated cyber attacks will likely be a major part of future conflicts.
“As the number of people who have access to the Internet reaches 5 billion, the world will see a 20-fold increase in the number of hackers globally, causing an increase in cyber warfare,” Sing explained. “If nuclear power plants in Iran and satellites in space are hackable, what about a car?”
According to Sing, emerging cyber security issues are now a key concern for the automotive industry.
“Researchers across the world have demonstrated threats and risks by presenting various scenarios, such as taking control of the car by turning off engines and headlights, disabling brakes, and taking over steering control denial of services,” he said.
“With the massive push for a semi-automated and completely driverless experience, electronics and associated software will become central to all of this innovation and pose a higher risk for hacking.”
Pankaj Rohatgi, technical director of hardware security solutions at the Rambus Cryptography Research Division, says the recent revelations of potential automobile vulnerabilities are indicative of an evolving ecosystem.
“Devices, systems and platforms that were previously not Internet-connected like our vehicles are now coming online. Cars are equipped with standard electrical communications busses that expose unsecured functionality – an issue that begins at the hardware level,” he explained.
“If you’re like me, you’ll likely buy a car and drive it for a substantial period of time. This means the same hardware that’s in place on day one will be there as the connected ecosystem grows and we rely on our vehicles to gather, store and communicate information.”
As Rohatgi emphasizes, taking a hardware-first approach to security and implementing the necessary functionality on the SoC level is a key element of securing all embedded technology—whether in the dash of a car, smartphone or tablet.
“A software-centric security approach for vehicles will inevitably require frequent updates due to unforeseen vulnerabilities,” Rohatgi added. “What happens in ten years when an automotive company is no longer pushing out critical patches? To avoid these types of situations, automotive companies should focus on building strong hardware-based security and isolation mechanisms that offer uncompromising protection against various forms of attack.”
It should be noted that one in five cars on the road will be categorized as “self-aware” by 2018. Ultimately, a system of sophisticated sensors, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and computing power will lead to the design of intelligent cars capable of interacting with their owners, each-other and the larger Internet of Things (IoT).
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