Cars now a genuine target for cyber criminals
Written by staff reporter
Cars are now a genuine target for cyber criminals and it is possible for attackers to gain control of a vehicle while it is in motion, with risky consequences. For instance, as Alex Fidgen, director at IT security company MWR InfoSecurity, explains, this could have serious consequences if the brakes were applied at high speed.
This comment was made after Volkswagen allegedly sued the University of Birmingham to stop it from publishing how it had hacked anti-theft systems on luxury cars including Lamborghinis and Porsches.
“Vendors should not try to block security research, they should work together with the researchers to understand the nature and potential consequences of the threats they are facing,” Fidgen said.
“Resorting to legal action to block such details from being published is the wrong approach. Manufacturers should instead incorporate strong security research in the design process. There are real concerns about the attitude of VW given they appear to be trying to suppress this information rather than working to rectify it.”
“Manufacturers do not seem to have considered the security threat when using embedded computer systems. Cars are becoming increasingly more computerised, particularly supercars which sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds. But not enough thought appears to have gone into securing the systems which leaves the cars wide open to theft and the misuse of computer information,” Fidgen added.
Such IT vulnerabilities could potentially have very serious impacts, both from security and financial perspectives, as cyber criminals target companies on a daily basis.
“Volkswagen have only highlighted to the criminals out there that the problems are likely to be genuine and important, so the damage has already been done,” Fidgen added. “There is a long track record of companies using legal action to try to prevent vulnerability information from being understood. This has proved to be highly ineffective as in most cases the security community was able to obtain the information through different research teams.”