Large number of cars on market susceptible to hacking and data theft

If you’ve ever driven a car on ice and have momentarily lost control, then you’ll know how terrifying it can be to fruitlessly turn the steering wheel, or to press the brakes without apparent effect.

TV correspondent Leslie Stahl suffered something a bit like this recently.

On 60 Minutes, Leslie was filmed driving a car around a deserted car park as it was hijacked by a remote hacker.

Watch the below video to see what happened:

Senator Ed Markey (MA) recently released a report Tracking & Hacking: Security & Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers at Risk, which presents several scary facts:

  1. Nearly 100% of cars on the market include wireless technologies that could be vulnerable to hacking or privacy intrusions.
  2. Most automobile manufacturers were unaware of or unable to report on past hacking incidents.
  3. Security measures to prevent remote access to vehicle electronics are inconsistent and haphazard across all automobile manufacturers, and many manufacturers did not seem to understand the questions posed by Senator Markey.
  4. Only two automobile manufacturers were able to describe any capabilities to diagnose or meaningfully respond to an infiltration in real time, and most say they rely on technologies that cannot be used for this purpose at all.
  5. Automobile manufacturers collect large amounts of data on driving history and vehicle performance.
  6. A majority of automakers offer technologies that collect and wirelessly transmit driving history data to data centers, including third-party data centers, and most do not describe effective means to secure the data.
  7. Manufacturers use personal vehicle data in various ways, often vaguely to “improve the customer experience” and usually involving third parties. Retention policies – how long they store information about drivers – vary considerably among manufacturers.
  8. Customers are often not explicitly made aware of data collection and, when they are, they may not be able to opt out without disabling valuable features, such as navigation.

Senator Markey’s full report can be downloaded here