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Hackers on the other side of the world can take control of your vehicle

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

No, you're not talking crazy.

The threat of regular people having their vehicles carjacked by cyberattackers is real.

Fact is, computer hackers on the other side of the world potentially could -- while you're driving -- crash your navigation system, cut your brakes, disrupt your steering or remotely take control of the entire vehicle. Hackers do not need to be in close proximity; all they need is something as simple as internet connectivity. Cars have become heavily connected to the internet.

They are essentially computers on wheels.

That's why automakers in Detroit, Germany, France, China and Japan are aggressively working to monitor technology protections in private cars, trucks and SUVs connected to the global internet to provide navigation assistance and so much more.

"The awareness of cyber security in the entire world has gone up. It's not a secret there is an existing cyber war between the U.S. and Iran," said Moshe Shlisel, CEO of GuardKnox Cyber Technologies, based in Ramla, Israel. His company is composed of Israeli Air Force veterans who helped pioneer the cyber defense systems still deployed in their fighter jets and missile defense systems.

 

He travels to Detroit, throughout the U.S. and around the globe working with automakers seeking to eliminate vulnerabilities exploited by computer hackers all over the world. The threat can't be underestimated, Shlisel said.

"Customers have expressed concerns that, due to the cyber wars taking place nowadays, the automotive market will be exposed to remote cyberattacks," he said. "If you're driving a vehicle that's connected to the internet, the security status of current vehicles is pretty much the same as computers in the 1980s. And the reason car manufacturers are worried about that -- the vehicle is part of the global internet and you can be in North Korea or Iran and reach any vehicle in the entire world."

'National risk'

An even bigger concern is the risk to fleets of vehicles that could cripple the transportation system.

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