Can hackers have access to your connected car?

How would it feel to be driving your pitch-perfect connected car and suddenly to be unable to maneuver it as you wish?

You’re behind the wheel of your new Mercedes-Benz S-Class or taking your gorgeous red Tesla Model S for a spin, and the 17″ touchscreen doesn’t seem to be responding to your commands, the infotainment seems to be working haphazardly and you pray it won’t all end up in a terrible accident.

Can this truly happen? The fact is your super-smart car has got all that it takes to be hacked.

 Connected cars threatened by cyber-attacks

It’s not hard to envision hackers directing their attacks from computers to cars, because many of them have become smart computers on wheels. Companies like GM, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and so, are equipped with Wi-Fi and they use 3G and 4G data connections. This way they ensure V2V communication and enable passenger to connect to the Internet.

Apart from the Internet connectivity, the connected car is susceptible to being hacked from more reasons.

Erez Kreiner, co-founder of cyber-security firm Five-C and former director of Israel’s National Cyber Security Council stated: “Companies will use the data connections to ensure that drivers don’t get lost or don’t take excessive risks, and monitor the condition of vehicles to ensure that they don’t break down on the road. But hackers will be able to take control of vehicles by hacking into those connections as well.” You wouldn’t want a hacker decide it’s payback time and crash your car.

Tesla Model S – can you hack it?

Owners of Tesla cars have been given a warning signal at a conference in Singapore, where a security expert revealed that Tesla’s electric cars can be hacked using simple techniques. They showed that the connected car can be accessed from a distance by brute-force hacking.

The problem experienced is also Internet-related, as servers are not very well protected. Tesla Model S owners should be on the lookout, as their really smart car was designed with weak password requirements and a web portal that makes password theft relatively easy.

What if I told you that Tesla’s web portal does not lock out drivers who cannot remember their password? Given enough time, anyone can bombard a Tesla owner’s account with different passwords until the gate opens.

Cyber-security – is the connected car still safe?

This being brought into the open, amends are being made by many famous automobile companies.

Tesla takes the lead actually. The Model S is the most advanced and connected car currently available. That’s why the company is actively addressing all its vulnerabilities, including cyber-security weaknesses. The company doesn’t hunt hackers down, but they offer them a special “Information Security” badge, so they help them solve all hacking opportunities.

Ford hardware has built-in firewalls to prevent malicious tampering, and the company has a team of noble hackers constantly probing for weaknesses.

Toyota does all that too, plus it embeds security chips in the tiny computers throughout the car, narrowing how they communicate and lessening the chance of outsider interference.

Steps are being made to protect the connected car from being hacked, but do you think it’s possible to create a cyber-secure system for vehicles? Think also of how computers are hacked in spite of all fire-walls and antiviruses.

Philipp Kandal