Why more regulation of connected car technology is probably on the way

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A few months ago, I bought my first new car in years. I was going to buy a used one, but decided that a shiny new car would be a panacea for the pandemic. I was amazed by the connected car technology, all the embedded software-driven programming that essentially turned the car into an API on wheels.

I was thinking about this more at the end of January when a 19-year-old man in Germany covered the international news with a chill. revelation: He can remotely access more than 25 Tesla cars, and if he wants, he can control some of their functions, including unlocking doors, opening windows, and even starting keyless driving .

The story has a happy ending. The teenager, David Colombo, is a white hat hacker who uses his skills to identify security flaws. That’s how he discovered vulnerabilities in a third-party data logging app available to Tesla owners, TeslaMate, that would allow him to push commands to cars. Colombo notified TeslaMate and Tesla, and a fix was quickly rolled out.

The rise of connected cars

But the incident became a disturbing reminder that security hole is a clear and present risk to all connected cars that is reshaping the auto industry, and the nature of driving, and that better safeguards must become higher priority.

Technological disruption in the automotive sector is increasing rapidly. In August, President Biden signed a executive order aims to make half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 zero emissions, including battery, electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell electric vehicles. The administration followed that up in February with a plan allocates $5 billion to states to fund electric vehicle chargers along interstate highways.

The New York Times, in a story [subscription required] titled “Why This Year Could Be a Destination for Electric Cars,” reported in February that “battery-powered cars are having a breakout moment.” The newspaper said the jump in the number of electric cars sold worldwide, from 2.5% of all new cars in 2019 to 9% last year, signals that 2022 could be ” The year that the march of the battery-powered automobile became unstoppable, erasing any doubt that the internal combustion engine was lurching toward obsolescence.”

The rise of software in cars

Even before electric vehicles started gaining momentum, the amount of software code in cars today has reached about 100 million lines [subscription required]and many experts predict that number will reach 300 million by 2030. To put that in context, a passenger plane has about 15 million lines of code and a modern fighter jet has about 25 million.

Many modern vehicles today have more than 100 electronic controls transparently integrated to control everything from seat belts to the infotainment system. Progress in cloud 5G wireless computing and technology will enable increasingly smarter and more connected vehicles to the world around them, such as networks and services in homes, businesses, infrastructure, and services. other vehicles. If the software is popular in the world, like the famous businessman Marc Andreessen Was observed [subscription required] in 2011, it completely swallowed cars.

These innovations are extremely exciting and will bring many benefits to society, including cleaner air, less fuel consumption, safer roads and greater economic productivity. However, all of these extra connections bring security and privacy challenges that have yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

Cars as “clearing information house”

“The wave of digital innovation, from connecting infotainment to updating software over the air, is turning the car into a treasure trove of information,” McKinsey said. report speak. “While delivering significant value to customers, these changes also help vehicles reach the edge of the digital revolution. Hackers and other black hat intruders are attempting to gain access to critical electronic units and data in vehicles, potentially compromising critical safety functions and customer privacy.” .

The current scarcity of security and privacy regulations and standards is a Wild West that won’t cut it in the long run. That’s why I think lawmakers at the federal and state levels will soon become more active in looking at legislation to strengthen these systems against intrusions.

Deja vu all over again

We’ve seen this movie before with new technologies developing. In the early days of internet of thingstechnology industry is slow to focus on Guard and too often ship devices with weak password protection and other security holes.

The auto industry cannot make the same mistake. The down payment is very high: Automakers not only have a business reason, but also ethical and legal requirements to ensure new vehicles are safe and worthy of consumer trust.

The discovery of the Tesla vulnerability came 6 and a half years after security researchers on a laptop 10 miles away cause [subscription required] If an SUV loses power, change the radio and turn on the windshield wipers using the vehicle’s entertainment system connected to a cellular data network.

Why this kind of thing is still happening is a serious question that needs to be answered.

The need for security regulations is not only for self-driving cars, but also all of connected car

In April 2018, California implemented regulations require autonomous vehicles to meet appropriate industry standards to network security. That’s great, but such thinking needs to be extended to the much broader world of connected cars.

US demands transparency about technology in other industries, such as the Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ regulations manage data transfers using an application programming interface (API). It seems inevitable that more scrutiny of automotive technology is inevitable – and not only in the area of ​​security concerns, but also in the area of ​​data security. Automakers and their third-party partners will collect huge volumes of data in an auto API ecosystem that will grow exponentially.

The industry would be wise to buckle up for the upcoming action.

Kin Lane is the principal missionary in Mailmanan API-driven development platform whose user base recently surpassed 20 million software developers.


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