Integrated Technology: Your Mechanic May Become an IT Expert

Integrated Technology

If you watch any TV at all (and I do during football season!), you probably are seeing a pattern within the automotive industry.  Manufacturers are attempting to differentiate themselves by showcasing the integrated technology integrated in their products.

We hear phrases and marketese that sounds like this:

  • built in Wi-Fi
  • smartphone aware cars
  • stickers on the vehicle highlighting the amount of on board storage (measured in Gigabytes)

With recent stories making the news about a phenomena called “car hacking” both the real world, in addition to the social world and the Hollywood world are making light that it is now possible to “hack” into a car, as there is now electronic information and integrated technology on board that is user based and not just device based.

These new features have formally been labelled as a cybersecurity risk as well as a public safety issue.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently took action to explore vehicle cybersecurity issues.  On October 28, 2016, NHTSA released a Request for Comment on its Cybersecurity Best Practices for Modern Vehicles report.

Cars are a high dollar item that are already part of a regulated industry.  They are charting the world of cyber regulation with no one to lead them.  Certainly, some deeper Internet of Things (iOT) issues will trickle from this study.

Will cars need Anti-virus?

What does a firewall in a car now mean?

How do we train the current servicing industry at car dealerships to review system logs for hacking attempts?

Will data that is encrypted in storage in a car be subject to the same export/import restrictions as other “software?”

Imagine this conversation.

“Hello, sir, I am calling to give you an update as to what we did on your car at the last scheduled maintenance.   We changed the oil and upgraded your AV to the latest version.  We changed both the cabin air filter and the engine oil filter, and we reset the logs on your firewall’s filters.  We added power steering fluid and updated the firmware in your power train sensors to the latest version.  You will need to come for upgrades again at 50,000 miles or sign this waiver given us access to perform the upgrades remotely.”

This is happening…it isn’t futuristic.

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