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GM to provide much-needed security to its vehicles

Last summer, at DEF CON 21, a convention for hackers, two researchers gave a presentation showing the software vulnerabilities in two 2010 vehicles. After a lot of trial and error, the two men were able to compromise many of the vehicles' safety features including the brakes on one of the models.

Their research, which expounded on another study that had been conducted earlier, illustrated what many automakers feared: many vehicle systems, including critical safety systems, could be hacked. If these systems were compromised or disabled, consumers' lives could be put in danger.

As one research study determined, some vehicles can be controlled via a vehicle's Bluetooth feature. This means that a hacker can remotely access a vehicle's systems, which can lead to easy theft of a vehicle or even interference with driving systems.

This gap in security puts a lot of pressure on the automotive industry to improve software security and protect the lives of its customers. Without firewalls, a vehicle could become controlled by someone else other than the driver or safety features could also be disabled, which could lead to a serious accident.

In response to this concern, General Motors has created a first-of-its-kind team that will hopefully be the proactive move the automotive industry needs to address issues regarding vehicle cyber attacks. GM's new Vehicle and Vehicle Services Cybersecurity team will be responsible for "develop[ing] and implent[ing] protocols and strategies to reduce the risks associated with cybersecurity threats."

As we have seen in the computer world though, GM's cyber security team will need to stay on top of its software, constantly updating it to account for new attack methods. And as you can imagine, this need will increase the more computer systems our vehicles contain.

Source: eSecurity Planet, "General Motors Appoints First Product Cybersecurity Officer," Jeff Goldman, Oct. 1, 2014

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