CES 2016: Day 2 – making smarter cars

Car security is rising to the fore here at CES 2016, which is not altogether surprising as 2015 was the year when car hacking really crossed over into the mainstream. Whereas we used to care just about backup cameras and nifty smartphone integration, keeping them digitally safe is now moving to the forefront.

This development is also reflective of changes in consumer demand. Nowadays, prospective buyers make purchase choices based on how many cool new technologies a vehicle has, not just engine and transmission options. So while technology rules, securing it all is on everyone’s mind.

After all, if your car gets hacked and they just flick on the dome light, tragedy doesn’t seem imminent. But if the Park Assist tries steering you where you hadn’t planned, the threat seems more obvious and perhaps more important to protect.

This year at CES, it has been hard to spot the wheels and engine for the droves of connected doo-dads, all presumably working well together. Except when they don’t. With vendors, sub-vendors and sub-sub-vendors competing for the dashboard in your next car, it will be no trivial task to make all the tech play nicely.

I can easily see all this tech getting its share of the blame when something goes awry during your morning commute. Speeding? Sure, it was your car’s fault. Except if your car systems do go haywire, your vehicle it just might be responsible. Well, it’s hard to argue you were zero percent at fault to a judge, but that’s what you’ll have to do.

“When technology takes over your car, who’s to blame?”

And here’s the rub. When technology takes over your car, who’s to blame? If it’s an autonomous auto, fine, it’s easier to blame the car. But what about the algorithms designed to, uh, “minimize law enforcement exposure” by screeching to a crawl when they sense a speed trap?

This augmented driving experience makes us think differently about how we transport ourselves, specifically about our physical security. And if there’s a digital foothold somewhere in your dashboard, let’s hope those programed levers don’t connect to important things that can wreak havoc if they get hacked.

Concerned? This year at CES, car security companies are starting to sprout up — ones who do things like scan your CAN bus (tiny automotive network) for anomalies, classifying traffic and scouring source and destination IP for later analysis. Try to explain THAT to your parents.

“This augmented driving experience makes us think differently about how we transport ourselves.”

But here we are. In the future, no one will buy a car without cool new technologies like augmented driving, where information pops up in front of you about your surroundings, cross streets, tasty eateries and the guy who just stepped out in the road. I just hope we can keep it all secure. Oh, and texting while running into stuff with your car will still get you in trouble.

Author , ESET

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