Financial, medical and retail institutions are just among the few entities put on alert in the wake of crippling cyber attacks. Now a U.S. government agency is calling on automakers to take measures to guard against cyber attacks, especially with the emergence of new vehicles that increasingly rely on electronic and computer systems that are susceptible to hacks.
The new guidelines, which were recently issued by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, propose developing layers of protection that are capable of securing vehicles throughout its life expectancy.
"Cybersecurity Best Practices for Modern Vehicles” includes some of the measures that vehicle manufacturers already are making, as well as some measures that are not yet universal. They are designed to encourage manufacturers to think of the best methods for preventing cyberattacks in vehicles and what measures should be taken if an attack occurs.
Modeled in part by the Cybersecurity Framework of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the document focuses on five areas: recognize, protect, detect, respond and recover. One of the recommendations is to test cars to determine if there are any security gaps.
The industry has already been seeking methods to minimize hacking threats. For example, internal testing has been used to see how the remote functions of a Jeep Cherokee were able to be overtaken by researchers. As a result, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recalled 1.4 million vehicles in 2015 to install software to protect against potential data breaches.
In an article for ComputerWorld, an analyst said that new vehicles, no matter the model, are vulnerable. "Every new vehicle today … has at least some degree of automation capability," said Sam Abuelsamid of Navigant Research. "Essentially, every vehicle on the road is going to need some aspect of cyber security built into it."