Vehicle servicing? Watch out, there are hackers about!

LONDON, England – The UK’s Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has already welcomed UK government guidelines to protect internet-connected from hackers – but is now urging a focus on the technicians who service such vehicles.

It’s perhaps something the SA auto industry should also be investigating.

Following the announcement earlier this week (Aug 8-12 2017) by Lord Callanan, Britain’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Transport, that guidelines for manufacturers of internet-connected cars were coming to protect drivers from cyber hackers, the IMI has called for equal focus on the people who work on such vehicles.

CARS COULD BE STOLEN

Research (see data below) conducted by the motor industry professional body in early May 2017 suggested that many drivers and their passengers were unaware of the security risks of today’s connected vehicles.

About half of those surveyed by the IMI said they weren’t aware that their car was open to cyber-attack, much like a home computer, and in fact could be controlled and/if stolen using wi-fi technology by anyone accessing the car’s computers.

A key factor in ensuring the security of automotive data was knowing that the technicians working on a vehicle were properly qualified and adhered to a professional standard. Which is probably why 86% of people surveyed by the IMI believed vehicle technicians should be qualified and regulated.

HERE COME THE GUIDELINES

The UK government has, however, not addressed this issue in its latest guidelines.

In a study commissioned by the IMI in 2016 Professor Jim Saker at Loughborough University, England, said: “Vehicle technicians have access to all of a cars operating systems and data communication portals.

“Under the current regulatory arrangements, there is no registration of technicians, no security checks and no tests of competence.”

Steve Nash, chief executive at the IMI, added: “Computer diagnostics, vehicle programming and software updates are common in the motor industry today but, with the sector currently unregulated and no national standards, it’s not always possible to track the people who may have access to our personal information.

“We’re working hard to get the government to address as well as the creation of systems at the vehicle assembly stage so that vehicle owners can be confident that they are not at risk.”

Scary stuff, readers!

IMI Research conducted May 2017 with 907 respondents:
61% said they used their mobile for online banking or shopping.
43% had integrated satnav and phone capabilities in their vehicle.
50% weren’t aware that a car is open to cyber-attack in much the same way as a home computer.
86% said they believed vehicle technicians should be qualified and regulated.
51% feared their car being accessed and controlled by a hacker.
47% were concerned that their car could be stolen remotely using wi-fi technology.

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