Self-Driving Cars Need to Prepare for Ransomware Attacks

We’re only a few years away from being able to buy self-driving cars. Several major car manufacturers are already testing vehicles. This is exciting tech news, but you can’t help but worry about the security — it’s scary to think that hackers could infect cars and cause all sorts of havoc. Self-driving cars require people to put their safety in the hands of a computer, a computer that has inherent security vulnerabilities.

Ransomware Attacks on Self-Driving Cars

Hackers could potentially cause self-driving cars to get in accidents or even kidnap passengers. However, Daily Mail reports that these aren’t the most likely threats to autonomous vehicles. Unless a hacker’s motive is to cause physical harm, it’s much more likely to see ransomware attacks on self-driving cars where people won’t be able to go anywhere without first paying a hacker to regain control of their vehicle. People could even be locked in their cars until they pay the ransom.

Even though ransomware is a real threat, car makers are still pushing to make self-driving cars a reality. Almost all accidents are caused by human errors and self-driving cars could put a stop that. These cars are loaded with proximity sensors, radar, GPS, night vision, and more to make them as safe as possible. However, car makers are moving forward cautiously with autonomous vehicles because of the security concerns.

Lawmakers Take Measures to Make Self-Driving Cars Safe

No matter how much security car makers build into self-driving cars, ransomware and other forms of cyber attacks will always be a concern. Experts warn that self-driving cars are the next biggest target. That’s why lawmakers are taking action before self-driving cars start transporting people. Ransomware has already been found in the software of some standard cars and caused recalls. Self-driving cars are particularly vulnerable because they require a network connection, which is an access point hackers target the most.

On September 20, 2016, lawmakers released self-driving car safety guidelines. The government’s goal is to keep consumers safe, not inhibit innovation. The U.S. Department of Transportation is embracing self-driving cars, and these regulations are only a starting point. The guidelines will be revised after comments from the public, and receive regular updates as needed.

Getting Ahead of Hackers

Security companies are already creating products and software to protect self-driving cars from ransomware and other types of hacks. For instance, Karamba Security has autonomous security software that is installed on small computers within a car. All car manufacturers will have some sort of similar device or security measures to prevent hacking.

When you can finally buy a self-driving car, you can rest assured that security measures will be in place to keep you safe. It’s possible that ransomware attacks will happen, but car manufacturers will stay on top of security and minimize the risks. Will you be one of the first to buy an autonomous vehicle or does ransomware scare you too much? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.

Image via Flickr by ed and eddie