The Threat Behind Computerized Vehicles
The idea behind vehicular attacks is simple. Unlike conventional weapons, larger cars and trucks are more ubiquitous, and the potential cost to morale and the population as a whole is high. The main concession is that these transports need to be manned by a person with devious intent. However, the continued computerization of vehicles, as well as the push towards complete autonomous driving, may make this form of improvised ammunition much more effective and dangerous.
As long as there have been computers there have been hackers. The challenge posed by programmers to create a closed, inaccessible system has continually been met by those looking to both illustrate and exploit their flaws, and cars have been no exception. Security continues to be a challenge, and though few remote assaults on vehicular computers have taken place, it does not mean that the threat is not present.
It was established in 2015 that a dedicated hacker could construct a device that would allow access to any GM vehicle with OnStar communications, including remote-start. Such technology could literally be used to open the door to illicit activity using stolen cars and trucks. In addition, the reverse can be done using onboard computers to restrict vehicle use by activating repossession software that keeps motors from turning on and forces alarms to go off at inopportune times.
While keeping engines off or allowing a workaround for safety features is upsetting, there are other threats that computerized vehicles pose. In one instance, white-hat hackers, or those who work for legitimate companies to find treats, were able to turn off a Jeep’s engine and control its braking system all from a remote location. Such access allows those with ill intent to take control of a vehicle from across the globe, causing traffic jams, highway accidents and even vehicular assaults while an innocent bystander is behind the wheel.
Even more disconcerting is the possible complete take over of an autonomous vehicle. Remote use of a car or truck where all operations are handled via computer would mean the vehicle would act just as if a real driver were behind the wheel. Even semi-autonomous systems such as sensors for automatic braking and self-parking programs give complete control over to a virtual driver. It is not a great stretch to think these mechanisms may be exploited for violent purposes.
There are two ways that society can help protect its citizens when threats come from something as common and essential as transportation. First is to rely on automotive manufacturers to stay ahead of hacking attempts. Evidence from the computer industry, which reports of data breaches on an almost daily basis, suggests that this is not enough.
Second is to prepare target areas for worst-case scenarios. Delta Scientific specializes in providing options for these occasions with a host of high-security barrier devices as well as gate and guardhouse options. Autonomous cars and remote hacking bring rise to a wealth of potential problems, but the right tools can still help make a safe environment. As these threats rise, a comprehensive layout is still the best defense against intrusion and assault.
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