Legal issues with cyber security too important to ignore

Gail Gottehrer will be speaking at TU-Automotive Cyber Security USA 2016.

Q: What are the top threats to cyber security in the automotive industry?

“Today’s car is essentially a smartphone on wheels. As more technology and features are added to cars, more points of access for hackers are introduced and vehicles become more vulnerable to cyber threats. Consumers continue to demand more connectivity from, and while in, their vehicles, seeking to have their vehicles function as mobile hot spots that provide Internet access and infotainment services like the ones consumers have in their homes. Along with this level of connectivity come risks, which consumers need to be aware of and help minimise.”

Q: What as an industry can/is being done?

“The industry can work with hackers to identify and address security weakness and potential vulnerabilities. The industry can continue to work with government agencies on the state and federal level to educate them about connected and autonomous vehicles and the potential cyber security threats to them so that effective and workable laws and regulations can be developed.”

Q: Is the media attention given to recent hacks really worth paying attention to i.e. is it a threat right now? Where should we be concentrating our attention?

“We should pay attention to the recent hacks and the importance of cyber security. The media coverage of the recent hacks is worthwhile as it directs the public’s focus to cybersecurity issues, which many people may not have been aware of before. It is, however, important to put the recent Jeep hack in perspective and realise that it was done by extremely technologically sophisticated people, who worked on this over an extended period of time. This is not something the average person could pull off and there is not a significant threat of widespread automobile hacking at this time. It is beneficial to concentrate our attention on working to make connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles as secure as possible and to protect the privacy of the data they collect.

Q: Where is responsibility ultimately going to lie?

“While it is unclear who will ultimately be held legally responsible for a breach, both the public and the law are likely to view automakers as responsible. If a vehicle is hacked, suits will be brought against automakers and any companies that provided components or services to the vehicle. We have already seen class actions filed against automakers where none of the putative class members’ vehicles have been hacked and the allegation is that the class members were damaged because their vehicles could potentially be hacked. Automakers have moved to dismiss these cases and claims of hypothetical injury by vehicle owners and lessees.”

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