Could a driverless car be hijacked by a hacker?

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At the CES International this year, BMW and Audi proudly demonstrated driverless cars that can steer, brake and throttle autonomously using sensors.

What they failed to discuss was whether their driverless cars were vulnerable to hijacking by a hacker. In fact they are vulnerable, and researchers at last year's DEF CON hacker conference were able to hack into Ford and Toyota cars and seize control of the steering, acceleration and braking functions.

To counter the threat, automakers are investing in technology to prevent a hacker from taking an autonomous car for a ride or from infiltrating the electronic safety and infotainment systems.

ABI Research predicts that 20 million connected cars will have built-in cybersecurity systems by 2020.

"So far connected car security has been mainly based on hardware protection and separation with infotainment and vehicle-centric safety systems shielded from each other. However, the shift towards cost-effective software-based security based on virtualization, containerization and sandboxing is well under way with Harman and Mentor Graphics as some of the leading vendors," says Dominique Bonte, vice president and practice director at ABI.

In addition, Cisco has partnered with Continental and Visteon to provide enterprise networking and security technologies, such as virtual private networks, IPsec, encryption and authentication, to the automotive industry.

"However, security is not just about technology, adopting end-to-end, balanced, and cost-effective risk management practices including security-based design procedures, frequency/severity analysis, audit and monitoring policies, and detection and assessment of vulnerabilities through self-induced cyber-attacks will be required to prevent malicious intrusions," explains ABI.

For more:
- read the CNN article
- check out the ABI release

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