Auto Hacking Gets Senatorial Attention

A bill was proposed recently by Senator Ed Markey, D-Mass. And Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. after a report was released by Markey which highlights the increasing dangers of vehicle hacking. The senators want the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create rules protecting the safety and security of vehicles and drivers.

Vehicles are becoming more sophisticated and connected through wireless technology, therefore becoming increasingly vulnerable to attack through networks, phones, and systems like OnStar.

Murkey said, “We need the electronic equivalent of seat belts and airbags to keep drivers and their information safe in the 21st century. There are currently no rules of the road for how to protect driver and passenger data, and most customers don’t even know that their information is being collected and sent to third parties. These new requirements will include a set of minimum standards to protect driver security and privacy in every new vehicle.” He went on to say that he looks forward to a collaborative effort in the Senate to craft this legislation.

Blumenthal feels that automakers need to step up. “Connected cars represent tremendous social and economic promise, but in the rush to roll out the next big thing, automakers have left the doors unlocked to would-be cybercriminals,” he said. “This common-sense legislation would ensure that drivers can trust the convenience of wireless technology without having to fear incursions on their safety or privacy by hackers and criminals.”

The proposed bill calls for evaluation and protection of all wireless access points, appropriately secured and encrypted data post-collection and a third-party detection and response feature to thwart hacking in real-time. Additionally, new vehicles would come equipped with a “cyber dashboard” which would evaluate the protections system and inform consumers about the level of protection each vehicle provides. The rating would be displayed much like fuel economy is now.

Wade Newton, spokesman for the trade group the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents Detroit’s Big Three, said he hadn’t yet seen the report, but that automakers agree that security is essential. He went on to describe ways in which the industry is already addressing the issue of information protection.

Spokesman for the NHTSA, Gordon Trowbridge, reports that their agency is also evaluating potential threats and working “to ensure that manufacturers cooperate and address issues in order to keep motorists safe.”

For more automotive news, please visit The Driving Zone.

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