Cybersecurity Risks for Autonomous IoT-Ready Cars

The Internet of things is here to change the face of the automotive industry. But it was not just a sudden turn in this direction.

The first driverless car Linrrican Wonder was displayed about a 100 years ago. Engineers continued to improve on different aspects of the technology. However, truly self-driving cars could not come closer to reality for much of the 20th century. Fast-forward to 2020, it is quickly becoming a reality now.

The Internet of Things has a major role to play in this progress. Self-driving cars need a huge amount of data. They need a consistent connection to a quality network. This is made possible by IoT which is based on interconnected devices. While IoT has opened doors to many possibilities, it has also increased the risks involved. According to a study, 61 percent of companies have faced an IoT-related security attack. Therefore, you should be aware of the common risks to your IoT systems.

Privacy Risks

Privacy is the biggest risk associated with IoT-ready devices. The driverless IoT-ready cars store huge amounts of data about drivers. Locations of frequently visited places like home and workplace are saved in these cars.

This data can easily be accessed by professional hackers, revealing the identity of the car owner to the hackers. The data, if in the wrong hands, can lead to financial scams. It can also lead to increased security breaches at your residence. Criminals can figure out which coffee shop you visit the most. This way they can target you with social engineering. In short, it can lead to all sorts of harm to your personal and work life.

Connection Security

IoT-enabled systems face 5,200 hacking attacks every month. Though not all of them target self-driving cars, it is still relevant to understand such risks on IoT-ready cars.

These cars need to have a stable internet connection all the time. They transfer a huge amount of data through IoT systems. A connection with weak layers of security can be misused by criminals.

A lot of internet-enabled parts go into manufacturing self-driving cars. Therefore it is important to ensure uniform security on all these parts. If even a single part has weak security protection, it can give a backdoor to hackers.

Hackers can use wireless connectivity to misuse such systems. The danger is not just limited to whatever is in the car. Hackers can steal personal information stored in the data packets. This can put the security of the whole system that is connected with your car at stake. It can also compromise the internet connection at your home and can infect your personal and work devices.

Vulnerable Platform

Hackers can also target the weakness in platforms supporting the self-driving cars.

Programs running on your self-driving car and mobile can be hacked by criminals. Malware in your smartphone can spread to your self-driving car through a wireless connection. You can face theft or loss of personal data stored on your smartphone.

Poorly designed systems can then create a lot of performance issues with your car. Criminals can deliberately cause accidents by misrepresenting data on your maps. They can hide trackers in your smartphone and car. This way the criminal can also trace your location anywhere.

Supply Chain Security

Targeting the supply chain is the easiest way to affect a certain product.

Most IT equipment, like computers, laptops, processors, servers, coaxial cable, and broadband cable, faces a risk of vulnerability. Unless solid steps aren’t taken to improve security of the equipment involved, malware can be implanted anytime, anywhere.

Programs used in logistics aren’t always very secure. Criminals can easily steal sensitive data from the systems. This can reveal the location of a critical shipment. Bugs hidden in third-party programs often go unnoticed. This can easily infect the whole network in a matter of seconds.

Infotainment Systems

The self-driving cars, just like the rest, are equipped with modern infotainment systems. You can browse the internet, check social media, stream videos, etc.

Android and iOS offer great infotainment systems to car manufacturers. The issue with these services is that they are still pretty new. The security system on these devices and services can be targeted by hackers. It can reveal your shopping history, payment details, and biometric info to criminals. There is always a possibility of your data getting leaked over the dark web. Sometimes hackers also sell this data to other people looking to harm you.

Controls’ Hijacking

IoT-ready cars have an increased risk of becoming hijacked remotely. Since everything in the car is controlled by computers, hackers can remote-start it or shut it down as well.

You may become stuck in an unsafe area if your car does not respond. The braking system of your car can be hijacked so to cause an intentional accident. Poor programming of keys can give thieves an access to your car. Hackers can also interfere in the connection between your car and the cloud server, hence giving control of the steering wheel to unwanted people. A chaos can be created by jamming all the IoT-ready cars in the middle of the road.

Internal Threats

Insiders are involved in 34 percent of data leaks in the world. Not all of this might be intentional. Some of them might just be ill-trained employees.

Employees stressed with work due to any reason are a risk to cybersecurity, and IoT-ready cars face a great threat in this regard. Employees who have worked on projects can reveal sensitive information to criminals. They can be a target of social engineering as well. Their office information can be misused to gain access to your projects. This information can be used to disclose the weaknesses in your platforms.

As the study suggests, hacking incidents increased 11 percent since 2018. Understanding risks related to the cybersecurity of IoT-ready cars is crucial.

There are a lot of possibilities with what IoT systems can achieve. Likewise, there are also possibilities of criminals exploiting them. Since acceptance is the first step towards a cure, while experts work on securing IoT systems, it is better to develop a general understanding of risks related to IoT- cars.

Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Shireen Inc.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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