Can Your Car Be Hacked?

Cybersecurity–literally–hits the road

Who doesn't love the idea of connectivity making roads safer by sounding alerts to prevent car crashes? 


Today's drivers see lots of positive benefits from Internet technology that allows cars to share information over wireless networks. And a future where cars connect with the broader Internet of Things to integrate with smart watches, homes and more sounds pretty convenient, too.


But there's a downside. Cyber attacks by hackers over these wireless networks are a real possibility – and with potentially disastrous consequences for driver safety and security.


Cyber Security on the road

Last year, the FBI, U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a public announcement about software vulnerabilities after security researchers found they could exploit wireless communications vulnerabilities to control vehicle functions.


That means hackers working remotely on a computer could get unauthorized access to vehicle systems, retrieving driver data or manipulating car functions (braking, steering or acceleration, for example, or even starting a car). 


In a real-world scenario, hackers could wreak havoc on individual drivers via system-wide attacks that could take control of large number of cars from anywhere in the world. Those troublesome scenarios haven't happened on a broad scale yet, but given hackers' track record penetrating secure computer systems of banks, retailers and government agencies, automakers understand the urgency for preemptive systems that detect and prevent cyber intrusions.


Our engineers are on it. 


The result is Honeywell's new small-footprint, embedded Intrusion Detection and Prevention System that detects and reports cyber attacks on cars. Using anomaly detection technology that functions like virus detection software, the system performs real-time data analysis to ensure every message received by the car's computer is valid. 


Cyber Security on the road

It can be configured to detect and prevent intrusions, making hacking attempts visible to the automaker and forcing the hacker work much harder to get in. After all, elevating the level of skill and time required to perform a hack is the best defense – essentially forcing hackers to focus their attention on easier targets. 


But it's not just the consumer and commercial auto marketplace that could benefit from Honeywell's intrusion detection system. It's applicable for military land vehicles, too, and can be extended to airborne fixed- and rotary-wing vehicles. 


With driverless cars on the horizon and consumers' growing expectations for connectivity wherever they are, our technology continues to reinforce safety and security for the connected world.