RISK: Hackers can control a car’s speed, stopping ability through a laptop

Most automakers don't have a credible plan for dealing with cyber attacks in real time

It’s technology every super-villain could love. Cyber-hackers can now — depending on the model — take over your car while you’re behind the wheel. Try to pump the brakes, and you could find yourself speeding into a lamp post… or a group of pedestrians.

The power of this new threat was demonstrated on Sunday night’s 60 Minutes when correspondent Lesley Stahl lost control of a test vehicle while experts, tapping on a laptop, made her car run over a line of orange cones.

American Senator Edward Markey has questioned 16 automakers about their cars’ cyber security and determined “there is a clear lack of appropriate security measures to protect drivers against hackers who may be able to take control of a vehicle or against those who may wish to collect and use personal driver information.”

In Markey’s report, security experts concluded hackers could get around manufacturers’ protective measures, and most automakers don’t have a credible plan for dealing with cyber attacks in real time.

The report also highlights manufacturers’ insecure storage of driving data.

The Association of Global Automakers says Markey’s report doesn’t reflect many months of discussion between manufacturers and technology experts working to improve cyber security.

The manufacturers who replied to Markey are BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen-Audi and Volvo. Three other automakers––Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Tesla­­––didn’t reply to his request for information.

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