Vehicle Cybersecurity

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March 16, 2024
Edward Smith

Vehicle Cybersecurity is a Pressing Issue

Anyone who has purchased a later model vehicle is aware that cars have become more dependant on computers.  This digital transformation within the auto industry has exposed new cybersecurity threats. 

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a press release announcing that it is seeking public comment on Cybersecurity Best Practices for the Safety of Modern Vehicles (2020), the draft of which it recently turned in for publication to the Federal Register.  The new document represents updates from the 2016 Best Practices related to the subject of cybersecurity.  An NHTSA official noted the high stakes surrounding vehicle cybersecurity and the fact that the safety of everyone on the U.S. roadways depends on it.  

Why Vehicle Cybersecurity is Important

It used to be that what happened in your vehicle stayed in your vehicle, but no longer. Digital innovations such as GPS and entertainment connectivity to over-the-air (OTA) updates for vehicle software has turned our vehicles into information storage facilities. The innovations offer safety and convenience at the expense of vulnerability to hackers and other digital intrusions.  This vulnerability could potentially compromise consumer privacy and affect critical vehicle safety functions.

Alarmingly, cyberattacks on vehicle systems are currently low-cost and low-effort endeavors, while a comprehensive industry defense requires greater effort and financial investment. The auto industry does not currently have a standard approach for addressing cybersecurity issues.  While automakers have had a history of promoting a culture of vehicle safety, they have not yet come up to speed in the area of cybersecurity.  

All of this adds up to mean that at present, would-be cyber attackers have the advantage. 

Regulatory Changes are on the Horizon

It appears that the attacker’s advantage will soon change if all goes according to plan. Regulators have prepared minimum standards for vehicle cybersecurity and software that will span the industry to include all vehicles. Auto manufacturers must consider cybersecurity a core part of their business and development efforts. Vehicle cybersecurity can no longer be viewed as solely an IT topic, but rather security best practices must be embedded and integrated within OEM (original equipment manufacturer) components.  In other words, cybersecurity must be included in the automobile design from the start.

Vehicle Cybersecurity will Require Lont-Term Updates

Auto manufacturers must also consider cybersecurity to be a dynamic issue that will need to be addressed over the entire life of the product and not just up until the time the car is sold to a consumer.  New technical vulnerabilities constantly appear and can affect customers with vehicles that are already on the road.  Security-related software patches will be required for the vehicle’s life cycle.  

Smartphone suppliers and other high-tech businesses already are dealing with ongoing cybersecurity issues by releasing security fixes and software updates regularly after the original sale of the product.  This practice will need to be extended by automakers since cars have an average service lifespan of at least 10 years.  

Watch the YouTube video.  This clip, from five years ago, shows the terrifying potential of vehicle hacking.

Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer

Thank you for reading.  I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Stockton, California.  The greatest dangers on the roads are not nefarious vehicle hackers.  The highways of Northern California see a high number of collisions caused by standard negligence every day.  If you or anyone you love has been injured due to the carelessness and recklessness of another driver, you may be able to receive monetary compensation for your damages.  Our injury lawyers are available to provide free and friendly advice.  Contact us to set up a no-obligation consultation at (209) 227-1931 or from outside the Stockton area at (800) 404-5400.

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