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Industry collaboration essential for security of driverless cars

Driverless cars and the entire infrastructure this technology will bring with it pose a serious security threat, a new report claims (PDF).

The report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) calls for greater industry collaboration and transparency in developing connected and driverless cars, saying it will help ensure that future autonomous vehicles are safe from cyber threats.

The research on automotive cyber security is based on research and consultation with the industry.

It reviewed the progress made in developing technology like driverless cars and identified possible threats, including; personal data theft, fraud and deception (altering or deleting schedule logs and records), freight and goods theft, automotive ‘hacktivism’ – cyber infiltration of a vehicle’s systems that is politically or ideologically motivated - immobilisation and inflicting disruption, damage and even injury out of spite.

Dr Mike Short CBE from IET said: “Connected vehicles will significantly transform our driving experiences by making travel safer, more comfortable and efficient. Cars are becoming connected to the web via wireless for emergency rescue, and navigation services. However, this raises new challenges for connected cars - and those in and around them – that may become exposed to potential risks from online threats.”

“It is vital that the digital benefits and security are designed into the vehicle in ways that are both trusted and understood by users.”

However, the report also outlines the potential benefits including safer, more efficient transport and a potential boom for car sales due to new selling points.

The review is based, in part, on inputs from the Automotive Cyber Security Thought Leadership event, attended by more than 50 experts from a range of engineering and technical disciplines.