Study: Drivers Are Worried About Car Hacking

Android Auto in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Carjacking has been happening since the dawn of the automobile. Now there is a new concern for drivers; car hacking. After a successful “friendly” car hacking demonstration early this month, it is becoming clear to consumers that the threat is real. A recent Kelley Blue Book survey shows that around 80 percent of drivers think car hacking will become a regular problem in the next three years or sooner.

“Technology offers a wide range of enhanced convenience for today’s new vehicle buyers, but it also offers the increasing potential for unauthorized access and control. Cyber-security is still a relatively new area of specialization for automakers, but it’s one they need to take seriously to ensure they are ahead of the curve,” says Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “If automotive engineers find themselves playing catch-up in this field, it could have disastrous results for both consumers and the industry. According to Kelley Blue Book’s latest survey, while few consumers consider vehicle hacking a major problem today, many feel it will be a real threat in the next one-to-three years. Consumers also are highly skeptical that a comprehensive solution to prevent vehicle hacking can ever be developed, though an overwhelming majority would be willing to pay for hack-proof vehicle security if it existed.”

Earlier this month, two professional hackers were able to successfully take over a 2014 Jeep Cherokee from home laptops during a demonstration with Wired magazine. They were able to blast the radio, turn on the wipers, and eventually shut off the engine while on the car was on the highway. Later, in a parking lot, they took over the steering while the car was backing up. They then disabled the brakes and sent it into the ditch.

72 percent of the survey responders were aware of this successful hacking demonstration of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Uconnect infotainment system on the Jeep Cherokee. Not only that, but 41 percent of drivers say they will take hacking security into consideration when buying or leasing their next car.

In terms of which automakers drivers worry about most, FCA was ranked number one at 70 percent on the list of automakers that respondents think are most susceptible to hacking. GM and Ford made came in second and third with 47 and 30 percent respectively. Volkswagen, Mazda, and Subaru got the lowest susceptibility to hacking score with only four, three, and two percent each.

So what’s the solution? 81 percent of participants think that automakers are the most responsible for auto cyber-security. So much so that 64 percent stated a preference to get a vehicle security patch installed in dealerships.

No official solution is available yet, however for its part, the FCA is offering drivers a free software upgrade.

Photo Credit: Hyundai
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