How Do We Protect Driverless Cars From Hackers?


In 2015, two computer geniuses hacked into a Chevrolet and took control of the car. Luckily, they were benevolent actors hired by the company do a test; but it revealed an important flaw in Elon Musk’s grand design for the world. If we have increasingly automated cars, what stops them from being hacked?

The key phrase to take away from questions is ‘automated cars’. This is not a future problem for future versions of ourselves, but a problem that we have to contend with today. If we can link our phones to our cars, and our computers to our phones, all we need is a malicious hacker to get into our computer to potentially take control of our vehicle! And, as the events of the last couple of years – such as the WannaCry attack – have shown, our computers are very vulnerable.

We talk to Sanjay Gupta of NXP Semiconductors about the potential solutions to this problem. NXP, who started working on solution a decade ago back when it was still a future problem, have identified clear points of vulnerability.

A car’s system is a lot like a system of rooms connected by corridors. It’s fine boarding up the windows and doors, but if someone breaks into the corridor they have access to their entire building. Considering we welcome in strangers to specific rooms through our phones and other IoT-connected devices, those corridors remain unprotected. As such, NXP has worked on not only protecting rooms, but also corridors. This may sound simple, but in reality it involves cutting edge technology that they have developed over years.

You can listen to the podcast of this interview here.


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