NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Self-Driving Car Electronics Systems: Vulnerable to Hackers?

October 8, 2014

The carmaker Tesla is looking at the possibility of creating a self-driving, autonomous vehicle, reports Matt Clinch for CNBC, but some experts warn that the technology could pose a new threat.

Car electronics systems are protected with very little, if any, security, according to Egil Juliussen, director of research for advanced driver assistance systems at HIS Automotive. He notes that there is very little information in a vehicle's electronics system that would be of financial value to a hacker. However, financial gain is not the only concern when it comes to breaking into a car's information system. Juliussen suggests that breaking into a car's system could open the door to traffic chaos, cyber warfare and other terrorist acts.

He also suggests another possibility: intellectual property theft, as hackers might try to steal a carmaker's design. Additionally, a car's system could be a valuable source of information for a person trying to damage an auto maker's reputation or establish liability.

These concerns are especially significant given the projected role of self-driving cars in the future. According to research from HIS Automotive, half of all cars sold in North America by 2035 will be self-driving vehicles. 

Source: Matt Clinch, "Self-driving cars -- the next terrorism threat?" CNBC, October 6, 2014.  


Browse more articles on Government Issues