Technology

Could a hacker hijack your connected car?


        


                
                 Terrified women drivers "src =" https://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/320/cpsprodpb/99D9/production/_98158393_gettyimages-123465986.jpg "width =" 976 "height =" 549 " /> <span class= Image copyright

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                    What's your self-driving car on your mind?
                

            

As more carmakers adopt "over the air (OTA)" software updates for their increasingly connected and autonomous cars, is the risk of hacker hijack also increasing?

Imagine jumping in your car but being taken somewhere you do not want to go – in on traffic, say, or even over a cliff.

That may seem like an extreme scenario, but the danger is real.

And earlier this year, Tesla boss Elon Musk warned about the dangers of hackers potentially taking control of thousands of driverless cars.

"I think one of the biggest concerns for autonomous vehicles is somebody achieving a fleet-wide hack," he said, speaking at a National Governors Association meeting.

"In principle, if someone was able to … hack all the autonomous teslas, they could say – I mean just as a pr ank – they could say 'send them all to Rhode Island' – across the United States.

"And that would be the end of Tesla, and there would be a lot of angry people in Rhode Island."


                
                
                
                
                
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                    Tesla can update its cars' software wirelessly, but what are the risks?
                

            

Mr Musk insists that a kill switch "that no amount of software can override" would "will ensure that you control the vehicle and cut the servers to the link", thus preventing the Rhode Island scenario

As cars become more sophisticated, incorporating semi-autonomous features such as lane keeping, automatic braking and self parking, and their "infotainment" systems are connected to the Internet, the amount of software code needed to control these systems is ballooning

"For automakers and their customers alike, such repair-shop visits are a huge waste of time and money, and [9459012]

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So OTA updates give manufacturers problems quickly as response to the ability to arise," explains Dr. Markus Heyn, board member of automotive electronics and processing supplier. And fixing bugs this way is safer than sending out physical USB sticks – which is what chrysler did to patch its jeep.

Critics pointed out that the criminals could have intercepted the USB sticks and sent out their own malware-infected versions.


                
                
                
                
                
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                    Can you get your self-driving car?
                

            

It's hardly surprising then that there are strong moves in the industry towards OTA updates, which means that new features can be added, and bugs patched, in just an hour or two, all without inconvenience owner.

General Motors, for example, says it is expected to be updating engine software using its OnStar network by the end of this decade, thanks to a new electric architecture for its vehicles.

, Bosch is planning to start offering OTA updates via control units and in-car communication infrastructure in-house, distributing the updates via its "internet of things" (IoT) cloud.

Research Consultancy IHS Markit estimates that By 2022, 160 million vehicles globally have the capability to upgrade their onboard computer systems over the air.

Electric car maker Tesla recently demonstrated the benefits of OTA updates when Hurricane Irma was threatening Flori

As people were warned they should evacuate, Tesla owners were given an unexpected and potentially life-saving freebie – an extra 45 miles of range.


                
                
                
                
                
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                    Florida Tesla owners fleeing Hurricane Irma was given an over-the-air update
                

            

The ability to go further without a recharge was built in the cars, but was unavailable to the drivers until the company unlocked excess battery capacity.

"We have a certain number of cars which we sell at a 60kW [kilowatt] price point, but for reasons of manufacturing efficiency we install a 75kW battery, which will improve people, "a spokeswoman explains.

" A customer wrote to us and asked if

Tesla unlocked the extra power by sending an OTA update to the cars via Wi-Fi or 4G.

But there's no doubt that OTA updates are present in a new set of risks.

For a start, we've all been at one time or another, attempted to update on our computer or

An unusable car could be a problem rather than a "bricked" – or unusable – phone.

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In 2015, 15% of car recalls in the US were related to software errors, up from 5% four years before.

When an update fails, says the Tesla spokeswoman, it's automatically re -sent, but this does not always have the effect effect

On the occasion of last year, a Tesla software update was designed to add an "autopilot" feature to the control of thousands of vehicles.

Then there is the risk of "man-in-the-middle" attacks – hackers intercepting the updates in transit.

This is why additional special care is taken over OTA updates, says Robert Moran, an expert in car connectivity and security at NXP …



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