When cars drive themselves, who's to blame in an accident?
Superhero stories are a great way to visualize the constant battle between good and evil, but in reality the fight is a lot less glamorous. In our modern age, a lot of the superheroes and villains are tech gurus who spend hours writing code on their laptops instead of trading blows in the real world. Things got pretty scary recently when a pair of white hat hackers—the ethical kind who hack to expose holes in systems that need to be sealed rather than for malicious reasons—gained access to the on-board computers of a Jeep Cherokee.
They managed to shut off the power steering, transmission, and brakes while the car was occupied by a frightened journalist driving on the freeway. It left a lot of people wondering: If we can’t even search the Internet without getting a computer virus, how are we supposed to feel safe when driving two-ton machines that are controlled by computers? Israeli firm Karamba Security now wants to give drivers peace of mind and are doing so by unveiling security systems designed for connected cars. Right now, hackers are able to gain access to cars that are connected (cars with infotainment and GPS systems) and alter driving systems like engine maps, safety features, and more.
Karamba’s software would be a firewall that makes it so a car’s computer cannot run any software that hasn’t been programmed by the vehicle manufacturer. Given how many of a car’s functions are now controlled by a computer, steering by wire and even throttle by wire come to mind, it’s a bit surprising that no one has thought to secure these systems earlier. Especially as self-driving cars that rely entirely on computers become more prevalent. Cars like the Tesla Model X even have doors wired to a computer to open and close, so be nice to your computer nerd ex if you’ve just bought one of these. For the first time ever, we may have cars that get five-star ratings based on the inclusion of anti-virus software.