Earlier this year, a writer from Wired participated in an experiment with two hackers. In it, they were able to remotely access his Jeep Cherokee, change his radio stations, use his windshield wipers, and even cut off his acceleration.
Though vehicle hacking is getting more exposure in the press, these hackers were not the first to remotely hack a car over the internet. In 2011, researchers from the University of California at San Diego and the University of Washington were able to disable the locks and breaks of a sedan wirelessly. Car dealerships have since been quietly asked to keep an eye on this and other cybersecurity concerns. Since this last hack, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has recalled roughly 1.4 million vehicles.
As we increasingly grow more connected online — from our vehicles to our shopping — we put ourselves at certain risks that are novel to most people. If the Jeep Cherokee getting hacked doesn’t outright scare you, consider that commercial airlines also run digitally. Trains too. Companies continually build new platforms of connectivity without considering that with every great step forward, there’s a great risk of finding a new issue with cybersecurity.
It’s now more important than ever for companies to be held accountable for their cybersecurity. That means hiring ethical hackers (or white hats) to try to break into their system before the launch of the product. But with any updates, there are going to be changes to the security coding too. Companies also need to hire cybersecurity professionals to do full-time monitoring and maintenance. It’s expensive and delays releases (sometimes for years), but it’s incredibly necessary for the safety of the business and its customers.