February 21, 2014

THIS IS FINE WITH ME: Why Your Car Won’t Get Remote Software Updates Anytime Soon.

Software is rapidly taking over not only the entertainment console in cars, but also basic functions such as steering, braking, and acceleration, as more cars come with features such as adaptive cruise control and automated parallel parking. This can make it easier to diagnose and fix problems, but it also increases the risk for software bugs or even malicious attacks that might cause serious injury. . . .

esearchers have shown that existing wireless connections can allow them to hack into cars and take control of car locks and brakes; and this summer hackers demonstrated how to take over a car and steer it, slam on the brakes, or tell drivers that a nearly empty gas tank is full. Charlie Miller, a computer security expert for Twitter, is one of the hackers who took control of two cars this summer to uncover vulnerabilities. He says that remote updates will add a new target for hackers. But he downplays the risk, noting that no malicious hackers have taken over cars, in part because there’s no economic reason to do so. And he says remote updating systems can be made secure—“It’s possible to screw it up. But it’s certainly possible to do it right,” he says.

That take seems quite optimistic to me.

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