Vehicle Hacking: As serious as a car crash

vehicle hacking

In this technology swamped world that we live in, it seems that we are faced with two definable extremes. The first is that our lives are constantly changing and improving due to technology innovation, but that as a result, we fall victim to the abuses and chaos that potentially can rain down on us all through equally innovative methods. In our vastly changing automotive world, vehicle hacking is unfortunately becoming a reality.

There used to be a time when a car was made up of a frame, a drivetrain, an exterior body, an interior, four wheels and tires and a steering wheel. That was all. In the early 1980′s, car manufacturers realised that they could improve the way a car performed by the use of ECU’s (Electronic Computer Units). Some say that it didn’t do one bit of good to how a car ran, but allowed the auto makers to test their electronic knowhow on unsuspecting drivers. Fast forward to the present day where a new car that you drive off a showroom floor is literally jammed to the gills with computers. Just like your desktop or handheld computer, they can be corrupted and “hacked” to, and many experts feel that the looming chaos is only a couple of years away at most.

Car manufacturers however, if nothing else, are an ambitious bunch and are not the type of people to allow massive technology abuse that exposes them liability-wise to costly negligence lawsuits caused by accidents and injuries caused by computer malfunctions initiated by hackers. We sometimes complain about how overly safety conscious and litigation-happy we have become as a society but it is these traits that will stand us in good stead during the next few years as the “Battle for Car Technology” begins. The innovation that we see surfacing every year as the new models are announced continue to take our breath away. Cars are almost capable of driving themselves and in some cases, driverless cars are already on our roads, and generally, the more luxurious the car, the easier the hack.

Hacking has become part of our way of life as we’ve all become reliable in many ways on computers to control our lives. The threat of massive chaos as a result of the corruption of these controlling systems is with us constantly, but no more than any other new technologies that we’ve faced in the past. Nuclear power plants, biological warfare agents, and artificial chemicals in our food have all been seen as potentially harmful but with those concerns typically comes the systems to protect against those threats. There are occasions where those protections break down and people get hurt or die, but that is life in my view. Heck, you can die crossing the street.

I think its right that the red flag is being raised, warning of the potential for vehicle hacking as that raises the firewalls of protection at the same time. Vehicle hacking will become a reality just in the same way as computer hacking did, but the thought that we’ll see cars driving into each other and massive pile-ups on Interstate highways as cars veer out of control is the stuff of poorly made TV shows. The technology exists to combat hacking just as it exists to produce it and what we live through is the balance of that reality.

I’m confident that manufacturers are fully geared up to combat this new threat and that as an enthusiastic driver myself, I’ll be able to take those scenic mountain drives without being afraid that I won’t make it home.

Either that or I’ll buy my 1975 Chevrolet Monza back.

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