The automotive industry’s history is rooted in manufacturing expertise, but its future has technology and software at its core. This was in evidence at the CES show last week where Sony unveiled a concept car featuring its sensor and audio technology, and chipmaker Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon Ride autonomous driving platform, which will take on similar offerings from rivals Intel and NVIDIA.
This shift also brings with it a new wave of operational challenges, chief among which is cybersecurity. As our article this week explores, over-the-air updates — through which nonessential upgrades can be made to vehicles without going to a dealership — present an opportunity for attackers to breach systems. Though no major incidents have been reported by auto companies, there is a risk that hackers could gain access to tire pressure gauges, change GPS signals or even take control of the vehicle.
Uptake of over-the-air updates has been relatively slow, in large part due to the security concerns. Tesla has been the main user, but Ford and General Motors both plan to roll out wireless updates in the coming year.
Over-the-air updates could ultimately save costs for automakers and drivers alike. But without adequate defenses against malicious attacks, they could also be a major risk factor for car manufacturers.