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Lifewire. Integrating 5G into cars could open doors for hackers, says TechDemocracy

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

High-tech vehicles are racing across headlines, and there's no dead-end in sight. Built-in components like park assist and collision warning are fast becoming standard in new car packages. Now, automakers are looking to further incorporate OTA (over-the-air) components. And to do that, they're planning to equip future models with 5G wireless capabilities. That means drivers would have lightning-fast access to features like real-time traffic data, and on-the-go software updates.

But the push towards 5G has cybersecurity firms like TechDemocracy raising alarms. Alex Lam, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer at the firm, expressed his concerns in a recent Lifewire article. In it, Lam explains how companies currently protect the data in vehicles, and why 5G wireless integration could potentially create gaps in those safeguards.

"Most of the data protection today from car manufacturers is done around the electronic control unit and data modules," says Lam.

"Hackers that attack these parts of a car need to have a hardwired connection to the vehicle," adds Lam. "For example, most vehicle ECUs can only be accessed by physically connecting to the OBD2 port on the car."

Physically connecting to a car's computer isn't the only hurdle for a hacker.

"More vehicle and vendor-specific data modules require proprietary vendor-specific software tools to read telemetry and other data. Recoding of the vehicle's computer modules can be done with the proprietary software," explains Lam.

But with 5G, vital data is transmitted OTA. In the land of wireless, hackers could find a desirable detour around the hardwire obstacle.

"As vehicles become connected to the 5G network, especially as part of an autonomous vehicle network, the vehicle-specific data will be naturally connected into the broader network," says Lam.

"This could provide a potential entry point if not secured," he warns.

What does it all mean if a vehicle gets hacked? In a worst-case scenario, it could mean a cyberthreat that puts the hacker in the driver's seat--with potentially malicious intent.

Cybersecurity shouldn't take a back seat to technological advancements. If you have a company that has unique insights into safeguarding cyberspace, contact our tech PR agency to help get your message out.


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