It’s a dark side to autonomous driving technology that we need to pay attention to

Blackberry chief executive John Chen believes that autonomous driving cars could be hacked and turned into “fully loaded weapons.” Chen made the proclamation just as the Canadian technology company is developing self-driving technologies with Chinese internet tech company, Baidu. According to Chen, an autonomous driving car could “easily be infected with viruses” by hackers, and the extent of what they can do could have negative effects on the industry.

Blackberry Believes That Autonomous Cars Can Be Hacked And Turned Into Weapons
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Blackberry CEO John Chen’s comments aren’t exactly new, but they’re still worth paying attention to given what’s at stake. Autonomous driving technology is trending towards becoming a big part of the future of the auto industry. That’s where it’s going, and you’re not going to find a lot of people contesting that notion.

The whole point of the technology is to make our lives easier. That’s also indisputable.

But even with all the promise and potential of autonomous driving tech, it’s still largely computer-driven. That means that it’s vulnerable to getting hacked, which is exactly what Chen is saying. “I can create a car I think is 90 percent virus free, but as soon as that car gets on the road and is being used, those conditions need to be regularly checked,” Chen told The Telegraph.

According to the Blackberry CEO, autonomous driving cars are programmed with more lines of code than a typical fighter jet. It sounds impressive on paper, but it also offers a bigger playground for hackers to exploit weaknesses in the program by injecting certain viruses that could turn these cars into “fully loaded weapons.” In a previous statement made last December, Blackberry even highlighted four industry trends — vehicle access, autonomous driving, software control, and the changing state of software — that make certain vehicles vulnerable to cyber attacks and failures.

In line with this, the tech company recommended a number of security measures that automakers and tech companies need to adhere to ensure that the technologies they’re developing are above board.

Blackberry Believes That Autonomous Cars Can Be Hacked And Turned Into Weapons
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  • Secure the supply chain: Ensure the supply train, software, and hardware components of vehicles are safe and secure.
  • Use trusted components: Utilize a security architecture deeply rooted in defense from attacks.
  • Employ isolation and trusted messaging: Use safety critical and non-safety critical systems and make sure these systems are secure.
  • Conduct in-field health checks: Monitor a car’s health.
  • Create a rapid incident response network: Share common vulnerabilities through a trusted network of different companies.
  • Use a lifecycle management system: Quickly secure a vehicle via over-the-air updates when an issue is detected.
  • Make safety and security a part of the culture: Ensure all suppliers are properly trained in functional safety and security practices.
Needless to say, the challenges automakers and tech companies face are huge.

That’s precisely why Blackberry doesn’t think autonomous cars shouldn’t be used commercially for at least another five years. These issues need to be addressed first, either by the companies that develop them or by governments and regulatory organizations. “Regulation and safety and security tech need to be established well before I think anyone should allow the cars on the road,” he said. “The self-driving car still has a lot of human error and safety control.”

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Source: The Telegraph

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