International CES has often been the stage on which the world gets to see ground-breaking new consumer technologies for the first time. Everything from the very first VCRs and camcorders to OLED panels and HDTVs have been unveiled here. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the 2015 show this week will see an unprecedented presence by the automotive industry and even a dedicated new area – the Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace.
Much of this coverage will focus, quite correctly, on how industry can better protect the increasingly connected vehicles on our roads. With self-driving cars already a reality, we need to start thinking now about how best to protect this high-stakes region of the Internet of Things before people get hurt.
A brave new world
Over the past 12 months we’ve seen an acceleration in automotive technology. This was capped by the announcement from Google just days ago that it has now finished its “first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving,” and expects trials to start in California in the New Year. But while that technology might seem a little far-fetched for most of us, the truth is that automotive makers have been quietly building more and more advanced computing systems into our vehicles for years.
It’s quite common for cars to have several computers on board today, controlling everything from the music system to anti-lock brakes. What’s more, as the Internet of Things extends into the automotive industry, you’ll find built-in sensors in modern vehicles collecting and transmitting huge volumes of data on fuel and emissions levels, engine temperature, air pressure, throttle position and much more. It’s all about making the driving experience safer, more environmentally friendly and more enjoyable.
As cars get more connected, it seems the possibilities are endless.
A dangerous game
But with these possibilities come new dangers. Just as PCs and mobile devices are at risk from remote exploitation by hackers, so are on-board vehicle systems – only this time the stakes are even higher. In a worst case scenario, what if a hacker could remotely control your vehicle, or maybe cut the brakes?
There would certainly be enough motivation: ransom, blackmail, vehicle theft – all theoretically possible from any internet-connected computer. That’s not even to mention the potential risks which could surface from undiscovered internal vulnerabilities in automotive computer systems. The implications for road safety are pretty stark.
Accelerating the debate
That’s why it’s great to see CES not only give plenty of show time to the automotive sector but also to the related cybersecurity debate. A record 10 automotive manufacturers will exhibit at CES 2015, with a range of conference sessions planned as well as keynotes from Ford CEO Mark Fields and Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche.
The new Vehicle Intelligence Marketplace in itself is testament to the increasingly important role the industry plays in the consumer electronics space. It will feature autonomous driving, collision avoidance and vehicle communication technologies. There’ll also be time for a panel debate – Collaboration: Protecting Connected Vehicles within the IoT? – where industry experts will discuss connected car vulnerabilities and what automotive OEMs are doing to keep passengers safe.
Up until now the threats to connected cars remain largely theoretical, but as technologies advance and become more widespread so do the chances that cybercriminals will look to exploit any security gaps.
As a global leader in online security, Trend Micro has spent the past 26 years securing our customers from the worst the black hats can throw at us. That’s why we’re also on hand today to lend our expertise to future-proofing advanced automotive technologies, so that the worst case scenarios of tomorrow never happen.
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