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It's easier for your car to be hacked than you might think: How to protect yourself

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

Modern cars are computers on wheels, meaning hostile hackers can violate your car's software and do what they want to it a lot easier than you might think.

Moshe Shlisel knows exactly how someone can hack your car. Fortunately, he's one of the good guys. His company specializes in cybersecurity. His team looks for vulnerabilities in cars to pinpoint the risks and then help to guard against them.

In his experience, nearly all modern cars on the road today are extremely vulnerable to being hacked. And, it is happening in the real world, though it gets minimal attention and society is largely naïve about how many car hacks and other industrial hacks have occurred, Shlisel said.

In 2019, for example, the U.S. Army's Stryker armored vehicles were hacked, compromising some of their systems, according to reports in The Drive and ArmyTimes.

In June of last year, Forbes reported that nearly every car manufacturer has been hacked and there has been a general increase in attacks over the years. Forbes cited Upstream's latest Global Security report writing, "There was a 99% increase in cybersecurity incidents (150) in 2019 with a year-over-year 94% increase since 2016. Insurers are just awakening to the seriousness of the threat, and some are wondering if auto cybersecurity is a national defense issue."

"The more sophisticated the system is, the more connected your vehicle is, the more exposed you are," said Shlisel, CEO and cofounder of GuardKnox Cyber Technologies Ltd. in Israel with subsidiaries in Detroit and Germany. "We have taken whatever model (car) you think of and we hack them through various places. I can control your steering, I can shut down and (start) your engine, control your brakes, your doors, your wipers, open and close your trunk.”

 

Those are only a fraction of the vehicle safety risks. Cybersecurity experts say professional hackers can gain control of a vehicle's systems or access a driver's personal data in most modern cars pretty easily, even if they're sitting on the other side of the world. All they need to do is find the unique Internet Protocol (IP) address for your car.

It presents automakers with a never-ending task of keeping up with advancing technology to stay a step ahead of the bad guys. And there are steps being taken.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game, you have to be on the ball all the time to stay ahead, otherwise if you don’t move forward, you get hacked," said Michael Dick, CEO of C2A Security, which is based in Israel and works with automakers on cybersecurity solutions.

Hiring hackers

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