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Your car is a cyber security risk, Kaspersky warns

Luke Johnson


Connected car

We all know we need to protect our PCs from cyber villains and are starting to become aware of threats to our smartphones, but our cars? Come on.

With the dawn of connected and autonomous vehicles well and truly upon us, mutterings of potential concerns have quickly followed. According to security specialist Kaspersky Lab, however, the threats are very much real, and already here.

As drivers and passengers alike hand over more and more data to their increasingly electronic vehicles, Kaspersky has warned there are a already number of very serious security concerns which surround the automotive industry.

You don’t need autonomous cars to be hacked,” Alexander Moiseev, Kaspersky’s Managing Director of Europe explained speaking with TrustedReviews.

“The car is built on the premise that the internal combustion engine is not accessible, which is not true. The threat to cars is already an issue.”

Looking to the reality of car concerns, he added: “There have been a few security breaches in the car recently. The problem is that IT security was never involved into the design of the cars themselves.

“It’s like living in a house with no roof and being worried about security. You can put bars on the windows, but that won’t help.”

Looking at areas of the car already open to attack, Moiseev highlighted two seemingly innocuous features found on many modern motors – parking assist and in-car microphones.

“You have park assist, you press a button and it parks your car. It’s the ultimate proof of concept,” he explained.

“It is a piece of software that resides on the head unit, which is connected to different components. It can steer the wheel for you, it can use the breaks, it can use the throttle, it can lock the doors, and it can use the sensors.

“I don’t need anything else to drive the car, and this is a piece of software.

“Is the head unit accessible? Yes, it is. This is accessible, people could change this software.”

Discussing the car’s integrated mics, he added: “Imagine a mega VIP who visits rooms which are completely secured. He has tonnes of bodyguards, he is totally protected and everyone is interested in the data he knows, but then suddenly you can gain access to the microphone in his car.

“The real problem right now is that nobody can tell you for sure that those threats are not active.”

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Sadly, this isn’t just simple scaremongering. Although Kaspersky is working with a number of car vendors to address the issues, it isn’t planning on capitalising on driver fears with a consumer product attuned to tackling connected car security threats anytime soon.

“Many of our competitors would say it’s stupid, because we could jump out with an immediate product right now to solve the problems, but for us, that’s not the goal - to be really short term,” Moiseev explained.

“If we release the product today, within an hour it will be obsolete, the speed of development of malware is so fast.”

Are you concerned by connected car threats? Let us know via the comments section below.

Jakob Stagg

June 16, 2015, 4:16 pm

My next car will have a crank on the front and lanterns mounted on the sides.

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