CNS Researchers Identify Potential Network Security Risks of Modern Automobiles

Automobiles that have systems controlled or managed by internally and externally networked computer systems are reaching near ubiquity in the United States. Computers in the form of self-contained embedded systems have been integrated into virtually every aspect of a car’s functioning and diagnostics, including the throttle, transmission, brakes, speedometer, climate and lighting controls, external lights, and entertainment. But are these systems secure? It wasn’t until a research team that is led by CNS Interim Director Stefan Savage performed an assessment of the security risks of modern automotive computer systems that this question had been comprehensively evaluated. In a peer-reviewed paper presented at IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in Oakland, CA on May 19, 2010 entitled, “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile” Professor Savage and his team, which includes CNS faculty member Hovav Shacham, draw attention to potential security issues that can only become more serious as computerized control of and wireless connectivity with automotive systems increases. In addition to presenting their work in an esteemed academic forum, their work was also highlighted in a recent New York Times article, “Cars’ Computer Systems Called at Risk to Hackers.”

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