Severe Cybersecurity Issues Found in Auto Shops

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A new study reveals that many auto workshops do not know how to keep cars safe from cyberattacks.

Today’s cars can almost be described as a connected system of advanced computers on wheels that handle everything, from anti-skid systems to adaptive cruise control. Moreover, car computer systems recently began communicating with each other to avoid collisions, which is helpful but also opens up risks for cyberattacks.

The new study from the University of Skövde shows that security awareness and knowledge among auto workshops are still low when it comes to cybersecurity. This begs the question – what happens if auto workshops do not have the necessary knowledge or awareness to handle car software correctly?

The authors of the study state that a large proportion of vehicles could practically be entirely accessible to attacks, if not already breached. However, the extent is difficult to assess due to a lack of transparency in how car makers operate.

According to Techxplore, one of the issues highlighted in the study is that car manufacturers created a solution for managing software that is exclusively accessible to authorized workshops, an exclusivity that fosters significant uncertainty regarding the proper handling of the software and leading to unaddressed security concerns.

“This is particularly true for workshops that are not authorized. They are often forced to use unofficial methods to manage the cars. For most people, the car is the most advanced computer they have, but they currently have no way to influence updates and information security,” says senior author, lecturer Martin Lundgren.

The researchers believe that both the public and the car industry need greater insight into the systems, and that it would greatly benefit safety if more than just authorized workshops had insight into the car’s security and were allowed to use official software to update cars. They add that while the current situation makes sense from the manufacturers’ perspective, the consequences for owners and society at large could be enormous.