Two US senators have expressed concern about the vulnerabilities of connected cars, writing a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ask if the agency is aware of the threat of malware attacks and how it plans to respond. Written by Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA), the letter arrives in the wake of a Consumer Watchdog report that noted that Ford has admitted that its cars have been the targets of such attacks.
While any malware attack can be harmful, an attack on an internet-enabled car is particularly dangerous because it could theoretically allow a hacker to gain remote access to the vehicle and take control away from the driver. That could lead to a deadly collision that the driver is powerless to prevent.
According to the senators, the report is troubling because many consumers may not be aware of those dangers. They argue that while Ford has made shareholders aware of the threat, car manufacturers have not been as forthcoming with consumers, and perhaps not even with the NHTSA. The duo consequently wants to know how the NHTSA will address the issue.
“We are concerned that consumers are purchasing internet-connected vehicles without sufficient safety warnings and write to inquire about NHTSA’s knowledge of any cyber vulnerabilities, as well as what actions NHTSA is taking to address these issues,” reads the letter.
In its report, Consumer Watchdog recommended that vehicles be outfitted with an inexpensive kill switch that would disable the internet connection for core functions like steering and brakes in the case of an attack. Meanwhile, the senators are not the only ones worried about potential malware. A recent Technavio report predicted that smart cars would increase the demand for smart car security systems, which could include biometric features.
At the very least, the letter is an attempt to hold car manufacturers to the same high security standards that consumers expect from other IoT devices.
Source: IoT News