Thanks to Internet technology, our cars enable us to not only make calls but tell us if we are veering into the wrong lane, give us live traffic updates or tell us where the nearest gas station is. Moving us from A to B is almost secondary. Yet all this functionality increases the risks, which range from stealing your personal information to literally driving you off the road.

In various experiments to test the robustness of cybersecurity systems in vehicles, “white hat hackers” – i.e. computer security experts who deliberately hack into systems to test and assess their security – have demonstrated that it is possible to remotely control cars. For example, as far back as 2015, such hackers demonstrated that they could take control of a Jeep’s braking and acceleration systems, its dashboard and more – a terrifying thought.

In another experiment on a Tesla, computer security experts managed to trick the car’s Autopilot self-driving software and swerve into the oncoming traffic lane. “Other incidents, such as those not involving white hat hackers, would also need to be handled with reasonable care and attention,” says Dr Gido Scharfenberger-Fabian, a project leader in ISO’s expert working group WG 11 that deals with cybersecurity for electrical and electronic components of road vehicles.[1]

Cybersecurity, therefore, is big business, particularly when it comes to vehicles. Various estimates of the value of the global automotive cybersecurity market put it growing from USD 2.4 billion in 2019 to some USD 6 billion by 2025. But despite this thriving industry, the war on hacking has only just begun.

  1. WG 11 operates under technical committee ISO/TC 22, Road vehicles, subcommittee SC 32Electrical and electronic components and general system aspects.