By Upasana Bhattacharjee
Blackberry is reportedly collaborating with luxury automobile manufacturers to develop and test an anti-hacking tool—one that will remotely scan vehicles for viruses in installed computer systems along with identifying and informing their owners about critical threats. Automobile manufacturers have been interested in cyber security measures since 2015 when hacking experts discovered vulnerabilities in Fiat Chrysler vehicles and the latest research is a bid to find a foolproof solution.
What Blackberry promises to offer
Blackberry is reportedly working with the British automobile companies Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover to develop this security service for cars. The service is speculated to be released as early as next year and is set to boost Blackberry’s revenue significantly. The technology will remotely scan connected vehicles for computer viruses and instruct them to pull over if there are signs of danger. This anti-hacking tool will prevent wireless hijacking of vehicles by identifying threats.
The development is a strong step towards strengthening cyber security and might prove to be a revenue enhancing sector for the Canadian company that has been losing its dominance in the smartphone market over the past few years.
Need for the technology
The increasing reliance of vehicles on computers, Bluetooth services and the internet has rendered them susceptible to remote hacks. While such technology is consumer friendly and is becoming widely popular in the industry, cyber security measures are woefully inadequate, especially in light of the recent ransomware attacks in over 150 countries.
Experts have warned that there is a possibility of immobilising vehicles through ‘clampware’ via their on-board computer. Software defects in radios, engine control units (ECUs) and on-board WiFi could be used to disable the vehicle’s movement and hold motorists for ransom along roadsides where they might be left stranded waiting for assistance unless they pay the amount.
Experts have also spoken about the need for fundamentally different strategies that are certifiably secure. The “test-and-fix” approach used till now could prove to be extremely dangerous and risky in vehicles because they contain thousands of different lines of software and thus a high potential for the simultaneous emergence of different defects.
Other avenues to explore
A solution that could be explored commercially targets the introduction of anti-virus systems, akin to those on personal computers, built within the car’s coding. Policy measures that delineate cyber security standards are being developed along the lines of Euro NCAP star safety rating system, assuring the safety of cars.
Strong cyber security measures have never been as relevant as they are today. The recent WannaCry ransomware attack has exposed the vulnerabilities of popular technologies. With rising dependence on connected technologies and the development of independent machines like automated cars, cyber security measures must be accorded paramount importance.
Featured image source: Pixabay
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