The wonders and woes of smart vehicles

Technology has brought a lot of positive changes in our world today, we now have phones that we could use like laptops to read our emails or have a video chat with our family and friends overseas, we now have different appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, or even rice cookers that we could control using our phone, and we now also have cars that could park or drive on their own. Some of these things are what we imagined the future would look like back then, but while we still don’t have time travelling cars, a selfdriving vehicle is in itself already impressive and “futuristic”.

However, the significance of the smart car is just a dot in the spectrum of IoT or the Internet of Things, a term to describe a development in the Internet wherein everyday objects like lampshades, sofas, and even pillows can now be connected through the internet. Network connectivity gives these objects smart features like motions sensors and heart monitors that you could turn on and off using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

The problem with IoT devices is that it needs to be connected to the internet, and the internet is full of predators waiting to prey on any device that looks vulnerable. Hackers find a hole in your personal network by hacking through these IoT devices, and once these devices are infected with malware, the virus can directly be transferred to your smartphone or computer by just using the infected IoT device. Once they’ve reached the core devices that you are using, they will then start to steal information from you (like bank account and health records) and subsequently use it for malicious intent.

Smart cars, like other IoT devices, could also be traced and hacked by anyone with the ability to manipulate the vehicle’s operating system. By knowing the smart vehicle’s IP Address, any hacker could control a smart car even if they are a city away from the vehicle. Self-driving cars needthe internet for it to drive on its own, as it relies on the network’s GPS and map settings to know where you are and where you need to be going. These hackers could control anything in your vehicle that is connected through the internet; it could be the GPS, the music player, or the worst of all; your car pedals and steering wheel.

Thinking about that would make you scared of ever owning a self-driving car. This brings about the question of whether or not anyone could trust an AI to drive their vehicles, especially since they are often prone to having viruses and malware. “Cars being driven by hackers… it is truly terrifying to think about especially when you and your family are inside the vehicle,” said Gavin Chow, Network Security Strategist for Fortinet APAC, during Fortinet’s Security 361° Symposium in the SMX Convention Center, Taguig City. “But we are there to erase the possibility of these threats from even happening.”

Cyber-security companies like Fortinet and Symantec are bringing emphasis and awareness on the importance of security for IoT devices, but with over 50 billion connected IoT devices by 2020 according to Cisco, it seems that cyber-security companies have a lot to work on in strengthening IoT protection.

They have started to work their way on bringing tough security solutions for IoTdevices and some of them are creating and refining security architecture for cars, trains, and planes that are relying on the internet which will provide them with protected system without any interference.

Security has become an important factor for IoT ever since it was realized that ordinary furniture and appliances in our home could have more features thanks to the Internet. Train systems and aircraft have also been integrated into the Internet of Things era, wherein one single virus or malware can cause major problems for these modes of transportation. Despite the risks of hacking, smart vehicles are still gaining momentum in the market today, Ford’ Active park assist is still built-in for some of their recent sedans, SUVs, and hybrid vehicles., and Tesla’s self-driving cars are now popular in social media.


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