You’re driving to work in an autonomous car. The vehicle enters a tunnel and starts accelerating, neither brakes nor the steering wheel can be operated – your car has been hacked. Journalist Peter Welchering pictures this scenario in Trend Micros interview series “Das Gläserne Studio” (engl.: “The studio of glass”). It’s a possible scenario, and it absolutely needs to be prevented. Trend Micro invited several experts to this discussion about car security: Rainer Vössler, their own manager of threat research, and Objective-CEO Dr. Clemens Dannheim.
Car Security with connected cars: How urgent is the matter?
Aforementioned situation isn’t mere science fiction anymore. Although most cars on our streets aren’t connected yet – i.e. they don’t communicate with their surroundings – Dr. Dannheim knows it could be a real threat soon: “Conneced-drive-features and assisted driving features are included with newer vehicles and premium cars.” He tells Welchering during the interview. “This means that external sources have access to the vehicle. An exchange of data between the car and the backend or cloud is actually happening.”
Next to car security, the protection of data is another major point for discussion. The new connected models have the ability of saving data, such as where you drive, what climate you prefer in the car and which radio stations you listen to.
Juggling security and service: Direct communication with the manufacturer
It’s essential that the car manufactures are able to juggle between service and security. While the driver’s data definitely has to be protected, it should be possible to directly communicate with the manufacturer about possible problems with the car. Because of the cars connection to the cloud, potential malfunctions could be fixed directly with a software update. This approach also works as feedback, if and how the software should be adapted for the following updates.
Trend Micro’s “Gläsernes Studio” tackles these and other questions in their interview with Dr. Dannheim and Vössler. You can watch the entire interview above on YouTube. To prevent the worst case scenario of a hacked car, Objective Software and Trend Micro are working hard to ensure the security of our cars.