Defeating Dark Side of Self-Driving Cars
Qian Tongxin
/SOURCE : Yicai
Defeating Dark Side of Self-Driving Cars

(Yicai Global) June 9 -- To have a rough understanding of the dark side of driving automation, imagine that an internet hacker has taken control of your car and that you cannot control its speed or direction. Even the brakes have failed. Alarms went off, but you cannot do anything about it. It may sound like a scene from a horror movie, but it may become a reality in the near future.

A 'black technology' that fixes security breaches in a car following a simulated hacker attack has attracted the attention of visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia 2017 held in Shanghai June 7-9. This Yicai Global reporter experienced the hacker attack first hand at the show. When it happened, I could not control the car using the steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals.

Recent studies suggest hackers can access and control some parts of vehicles such as brakes and the engine igniter, or hack into owners' personal data.

Irdeto, which focuses on digital platform security, and Frost & Sullivan Research jointly released a whitepaper at the CES, suggesting that carmakers and major auto parts suppliers will increase investment in digital and network security system development in the next three years to avoid hacker attacks.

The latest technology can prevent such fatal attacks from happening, some companies claim. Link Motion and Irdeto unveiled a car computer at the show. It is designed to prevent hackers and other criminals from tampering with its settings, and thus forestall attacks on vehicles equipped with telematics systems.

"Consumers want their cars to have internet connection, but carmakers must tackle potential security issues properly, and make their products hacker-proof," Irdeto's chief executive Doug Lowther told Yicai Global. "In the next few years, as they increase investment in digital and telematics system development, automakers and first-tier suppliers should pay due attention to network security from the beginning, and make sure that comprehensive security measures are in place to ensure driver and passenger safety," he added.

"The auto industry is in the middle of a major revolution, and software has become an important part of car development. Consumers want their cars to have more telematics features," said Nie Bangxian, chief executive at Link Motion. "Security protection is a new concept, and it needs to be integrated into the product throughout the development process, instead of being added to it."

There will be around 25 million telematics-enabled cars in service worldwide by 2020, the report predicted, saying that it will accelerate the development of new on-board services and the driving automation technology.

Similarly, studies conducted by Frost & Sullivan Research suggest that driven by the digital transformation, carmakers' investment in high-tech research and development will rise to some USD82 billion by 2020, and their total input into telematics-related security systems is estimated to grew 24.4 percent a year between 2015 and 2025.

"There have been several online attacks targeting auto companies over the past couple of years, but people are still not fully aware of the magnitude of the problem," pointed out Niranjan Manohar, head of the telematics and information technology department at Frost & Sullivan. "Telematics is something that everyone wants to have, but security protection should be recognized as an important issue throughout a car's lifecycle. Carmakers need to create comprehensive security solutions covering all aspects of the auto value chain, including hardware, software, network and cloud computing security," he said.

Chinese internet security company Qihoo 360 Technology also exhibited a full suite of information safety monitoring and protection solutions that it developed jointly with its partners at the show. The products use specialized tools to monitor hacker attacks remotely, and provide vehicles that may be affected with anti-attack solutions through a software upgrade, protecting on-board data on a real-time basis. The company has set up a telematics security lab through collaboration with Zhejiang University, Tesla and China Chang'an Automobile Group.

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Keywords: Auto , AI , Internet Safety , Self-Driving , Car Automation , Hacker Attack , CESAsia