As cars become simply rolling computers, with computers controlling virtually every aspect of your car's operations, a group of scientists and engineers from San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute will come up with the industry standard protocol to prevent those computers from being hacked, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"The WiFi Bluetooth, cellular and entry points into the vehicle," are increasingly vulnerable to hijacking by malicious pranksters or even by terrorists, said Mark Brooks, a senior research engineer at SwRI's Automation and Data Systems Division and one of the members of what is called the Automotive Consortium for Embedded Security.
He tells 1200 WOAI news that vehicles today have dozens of embedded computer systems, and specific security tools must be created to prevent them from being hacked just like desktop computers have had embedded security and anti virus systems for years.
"These technologies are something that the OEM's (Original Equipment Manufacturers) would have to duplicate efforts to come up with," Brooks said. "This way the industry can come up with solutions in a cost effective way."
He says one security protocol created for all of the big car makers will also prevent one of the car companies from touting hacker-proof security on its computers as a selling point, because all of the manufacturers will include the same protocol.
He says it is theoretically possible for hackers to 'take control' of a vehicle's systems and order it to accelerate, drive off the road, or even drive through security barriers.
"Right now there have been o proven attacks, it is all theoretical," he said.
He says even a car's airbags are controlled by computers, so the goal is to protect the computers that go into the vehicle from hacking, identifying system bugs that might be on the computers, and also protecting the intellectual property associated with control system software on the computers.
SwRI will hold the patent on the security framework and will license it royalty-free to automakers.