Cybersecurity

FBI Warns About Car Hacking. Encryption Security Helps Prevent That.

Beware of hatchback doors in your cybersecurity.

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KITT
Credit: Tabercil

While FBI prepares for a court hearing next week to try to force Apple to help it break into the work phone of San Bernardino, California, terrorist Syed Farook, the agency also wants you to pay attention to your cybersecurity to protect yourself from hackers attempting to commandeer your car.

This somewhat schizophrenic argument (all tech experts seem to agree that what the FBI is asking for in San Bernardino would weaken everybody's data security) is a result of increasing concerns that our highly computerized automobiles are susceptible to hackers. As we approach a future of self-driving automobiles, it is obviously a risk that cannot be ignored. Wired last year famously had a couple of guys hack into and shut down the transmission of a vehicle while it was traveling down the highway.

So the FBI, the Department of Transportation, and the National Highway Transportation and Security Association have put out a press release and resource page warning consumers about how important cybersecurity is for your vehicles.

Wired takes note of the irony of the FBI calling for careful protection on security and access to digital tools on the one hand while going to the courts to mandate the opposite:

The announcement also notes that drivers should be careful about offering physical access to their vehicles to strangers. "In much the same way as you would not leave your personal computer or smartphone unlocked, in an unsecure location, or with someone you don't trust, it is important that you maintain awareness of those who may have access to your vehicle," the announcement reads. (If only the FBI felt quite so strongly about keeping intruders out of your iPhone.) [Emphasis added]

Mind you, the government is insisting on arguing that ordering that Apple help make a single phone more vulnerable to hacking is an isolated request that cannot possibly get out of hand. But that seems to be an argument presented solely by government representatives. Everybody in the tech industry seems to be lining up behind Apple.

Read more about car hacking here.

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