The shift towards autonomous driving and other increasingly sophisticated in-car computer systems brings an increased risk of hacking.
The road safety risk posed by that sort of attack has prompted four members of the U.S. Congress to lobby for more action and transparency from vehicle manufacturers.
Following reports of researchers being able to connect a computer to a Jeep’s on-board diagnostic system and - with a few key strokes - cause it to drive in a potentially dangerous manner, the members of Congress have sent a ‘please-explain’ letter to North America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In light of Volkswagen’s on-going ‘dieselgate’ disaster, it is with some irony that industry insiders reported that the Jeep’s diagnostic port hacked by the researchers was the one which, from 1994 onwards, vehicle manufacturers were required to install to enable independent exhaust emissions testing.
According to North American media reports, the letter sent to NHTSA says in part that the diagnostic port “as it currently exists creates a growing risk to the safety and security of passengers.”
Co-incidentally NHTSA is scheduled to release its new cybersecurity guidelines within the next few weeks. These guidelines follow a bulletin jointly issued by NHTSA and the FBI in March which warned that vehicles were “increasingly vulnerable” to hacking.