Hackseat Driver: Will Autonomous Cars Be Too Susceptible To E-Intruders?

Hackers love taking on the challenge of manipulating technology that is supposed to be beyond any outsider's control.  This can cause havoc on computers, phones, and other devices...but what happens when a hacker targets a self-driving car?

Could hackers take you and your car for a joyride?
(Image courtesy computerworld.com.)

According to msn.com, the threat of cyberattack against self-driving cars is a serious issue - one that manufacturers as well as insurers are now scrutinizing.  With expectations for such vehicles to hit the road by 2020, it is time to start seriously assessing the damage a hacker could do, should they gain control of a self-driving vehicle's numerous ranging instruments.

These cars will be propelled in part by information gleaned from onboard cameras, sonar, radar, and LiDAR (light detection and ranging), all of which could be made vulnerable to hackers.

Electronic elements of an autonomous car, all of which could be hackable targets.
(Image courtesy google.com.)

"One attack scenario forces the car to accelerate, rather than brake, even though the obstacle avoidance system (using LiDAR) detects an object in front of the car. Rather than slowing down, the car hits the object ... at high speed, causing damage to the car and potential threat to the life and safety of the passengers in the car under attack and in the car being struck," according to a report by Mission Secure Inc., a US-based security firm.

Such attacks could be carried out so rapidly and violently that there would be no forensic technological evidence to determine what caused the problem.  This leads to worries from insurance companies, who will likely need to reassess premiums based on new concepts, such as what car companies claim their cars are capable of (versus what actually happens on the road.)

Google's cars have already rolled out, but can they be infiltrated from afar?

Countermeasures to car-hackers are being assessed by various security firms, and Google is rumored to have a team of its top engineers attempting to remotely control cars.  Google's own self-driving cars have been autonomously cruising in California since last month.

In the future, stealing cars won't involve smashing windows or using jimmy tools.  The thieves may not even need to be nearby the scene of the crime.  With new innovations come new issues...but let's hope that these hackers can be overridden if needed by some good old fashioned human steering behind the wheel.

Don't get too comfortable in your autonomous chariot...you may have to fight hackers
by remembering your driving skills!
(Image courtesy economist.com.)


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