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Researchers to name the most hackable cars at Black Hat

Lucas Mearian | Aug. 5, 2014
An attacker who penetrates a vehicle's radio or Bluetooth connection can gain access to other critical functions.

Unlike mobile device makers that use state-of-the-art technology to secure smartphones and tablets, the automotive industry has generally been a technology laggard. The computer systems in automobiles, like so many other systems, can be relatively old because of the three- to five-year vehicle development cycle.

"Nothing dates a car quicker than the electronics. You can get into five-year-old luxury car and it...feels like a Nintendo game...compared to the experience on your smartphone," said Scott Morrison, a distinguished engineer at CA's Layer 7 Technologies.

Mobile devices are being connected to vehicles through APIs such as Apple's CarPlay, Google's Automotive Link and the OS-agnostic standard MirrorLink.

In a sense, the car is becoming a large mobile device, according to Morrison and others. As the automobile industry moves toward connected vehicles, capable of communicating with each other and the infrastructure around them, it also has to address how they'll protect the security of the vehicle's microprocessors.


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