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Connected cars: boon or bane?

Posted: 29 Apr 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:connected car  connectivity  fuel efficiency  ADAS  AUTOSAR 

Over-the-air software patches

As Contrast Security's CTO Williams pointed out, software is taking over cars.

Cars aren't PCs, but carmakers might see the future developing along paths similar to those already taken by PCs. Software patches in vehicles might become as common as they are with PCs.

Alas, cars today are "un-patchable," said Williams.

In today's automotive world, any problems are identified in vehicle models require a drawn-out recall process, including a trip to the dealer for repairs. Meanwhile, the automotive supply chain must supply replacement parts, he explained.

Tesla Motors provides what it calls "over-the-air updates," offering a glimpse of the future. What Tesla is pioneering today "is cool," said Williams, but most automakers are far from embarking on the journey of remote software updates.

Over-the-air software patches

The first challenge is ensuring that the wireless connection for software updates is secure. More problematic is coming up with software updates that attackers can't exploit, said Williams. Microsoft's Windows update services, for example, are known to have been used to spread viruses that infected unsuspecting computers, he said.

In short, over-the-air software upgrades could not only increase the risk for software bugs but also invite even more malicious attacks. In a car traveling at 70mph, a computer virus could be fatal.

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