Imagine driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour, when suddenly the wheel turns hard right. You crash. And it was because someone hacked your car.
It’s not far-fetched science fiction. It’s the near-term future today’s hackers are warning about.
Most people aren’t aware their cars are already high-tech computers. And now we’re networking them by giving them wireless connectivity. Yet there’s a danger to turning your car into a smartphone on wheels: It makes them a powerful target for hackers.
Meanwhile, there’s a growing potential for car malware. Makers of “infotainment” systems — dashboards that function like a tablet — are racing to add fun apps. But if automobiles’ internal electronics remain insecure, downloading a malicious app to your car could spell big trouble. That’s why auto suppliers are taking initiative.
Harman() makes Bluetooth audio devices that end up in BMWs, Hyundais, Mercedes-Benzes and others. The company is adding its own layers of security by using software to virtually separate the entertainment system from the car’s network. It raises the bar of difficulty for a hacker to use a music app to worm his way into your steering controls.
Sachin Lawande leads Harman’s infotainment division and justifies its initiative: “The assumption we’re making is that it’ll take a while for the auto industry to move to a more secure internal network than what we have today.”