TECH TO HALT THE HACKERS
CAR hacking – as well as theft – remains a concern for many motorists, with so many functions and controls in a modern vehicle operated electronically. Last year, several scientists demonstrated a remote hack on a moving Jeep Cherokee to steer it off the road. It’s worrying, but thankfully help is at hand.
Tech giant Harman is developing protection systems to prevent your car from being hacked, and we met its cyber security team to see how it works. Using software on an ipad hooked up to a car parked outside (above), we were able to unlock the doors, turn the wipers on, make the speedometer accelerate wildly and activate the reversing cameras with a simple click of a button.
Seconds later, Harman’s TCU Shield (to protect telematics and infotainment) and ECU Shield (for internal workings like speed) were activated, making the car impenetrable to our attacks.
Saar Dickman, Harman’s vice president of automotive cyber security, said the system has been undergoing testing with several car makers for the past two years, and is ready to be fitted to future models. Crucially, it can easily be retro-fitted without the need to redesign the vehicle, with all data stored on board. Dickman explained: “It’s not anti-virus, it’s invasion detection.”
The system learns what is allowed on a vehicle and analyses anything that’s unexpected before deciding to allow it or not. It can tell the difference between security intrusion and servicing defect.
Dickman added: “When we detect anything, we want to provide the manufacturer with the security status of the vehicle so it can take action, which could be a software update or a vehicle recall. Then we know the security status of the components and what parts can be compromised.
“You can’t guarantee 100 per cent protection, but it crosses any safety and security stands that the industry has put together.”