Blogs -How Driverless Cars will put Mobile Security to the Test?

How Driverless Cars will put Mobile Security to the Test?

February 28, 2018


Beth Kindig

Lead Tech Analyst

As GM CEO Mary Barra said in a keynote speech, “A cyber incident is a problem for every automaker in the world. It is a matter of public safety.” As Tesla, GM and many others continue to release connected vehicles – and soon driverless vehicles, the dangers are set to increase. In fact, more than half of the vehicles sold today are connected and vulnerable.

By 2025, the driverless market will be worth $42 billion up from nearly nothing with an official market entry still being anticipated [1]. Self-driving cars have the potential to save 292,000 lives annually from preventing collisions. This is in addition to the added benefits of reducing traffic and climate change, along with the costs of car ownership.

While gaining access to, and being able to control or steal a vehicle such as a Tesla is disturbing enough, it raises several concerns about not only connected cars, but also the mobile applications that extend the features of these vehicles. In fact, mobile apps are quickly becoming the main target for malicious behavior. Over the last four years, there has been a 188 percent increase in the number of Android vulnerabilities and a 262 percent increase in the number of iOS vulnerabilities. In addition, according to Gartner, 75 percent of mobile apps would fail basic security tests.

In another report, more than 80 percent of mobile apps on both the Android and iOS platforms revealed cryptographic implementation issues. Recently, Android malware has become more stealth and has begun to obfuscate code to bypass signature-based security software. Despite Google’s response to critical vulnerabilities and patches of critical issues in the Android OS, end users are still dependent on device manufacturers for these updates.

Driverless Car Security Infographic:

Driverless Car Security Infographic

The main source of security and data breaches are found in hacking, malware and social engineering [2].

There are four major attack clusters in the automotive sector:

  • Direct physical attack: Cars can be breached through the OBDII port and/or while in for maintenance or lent to other drivers.
  • Indirect physical attack: A carrier is used to compromise the vehicle such as a USB stick, SD card, or through a software patch.
  • Wireless attacks: Bluetooth and mobile networks including the current development of iOS and Android apps open up the vehicle to an abundant variety of attacks.
  • Sensor fooling: As of yet, there are no known hacks documented that indicate you can take over a car by fooling the sensors alone.

Consumers are becoming more aware of the dangers around connectivity with 62% saying they are concerned that connected cars will become easily hacked in the future and 48% saying data privacy and security are extremely important. Executives of car manufacturers are also aware of the heightened concern with 52% rating data security and privacy as being of upmost importance to their customers [3].

While the path towards better cyber security for connected cars is a multi-actor road map, auto manufacturers who take the lead will be improving the security of their own brand and product will also improve the safety of their customer.

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