By Aaron Gordon, JALOPNIK
August 1, 2019
Internet-connected cars offer all kinds of safety and convenience improvements. But it also means your car is connected to the internet and, as we know all too well, once something is connected to the internet, someone is going to try and hack it.
A recent report about car hacking by the group Consumer Watchdog is making the media rounds because it warns that mass car hacks “could lead to Sept. 11-level casualties,” according to the Detroit Free Press:
“Millions of cars on the internet running the same software means a single exploit can affect millions of vehicles simultaneously. A hacker with only modest resources could launch a massive attack against our automotive infrastructure, potentially causing thousands of fatalities and disrupting our most critical form of transportation,” the group warns.
The report highlights what it describes as the key security flaw in connected vehicles, noting that the potential vulnerability is growing because of the increasing number of such vehicles on the roads.
A spokesperson for an auto industry trade group brushed off the report as fear-mongering and an attempt to garner attention before an upcoming major cybersecurity conference. The spokesperson added that, in essence, there’s nothing unusual about finding vulnerabilities and then patching them.
This is both correct and also terrifying, because when your computer gets a virus or is hacked, it is inconvenient and annoying but generally not life-threatening.
Consumer Watchdog advocates for cars to come with a “kill switch” that can instantly log the car off. I wish humans came with that, too.