Home Office to work with car manufacturers to defend against hackers

Car manufacturers yet to make leap into penetration testing says security lead

Car manufacturers may have to work more closely with the Home Office to defend against technology related vehicle theft, Theresa May hinted this morning.

In a speech on police reforms, the home secretary cited emerging technology as the key threat to consumers.

May said that the Home Office was aware that thieves can use sophisticated devices to "grab security coding" when the owner uses their key.

She said: "There have been reports that they could even use 'malware' to commandeer vehicle systems via satellites and issue remote demands to unlock doors, disable alarms and start car engines.

"Because we have this understanding, we can now work with industry to improve electronic resilience, include this kind of resilience in the vehicle's overall security ratings, and work out the extent to which the same threat applies to other physical assets such as building security systems."

May's remarks confirm that the car industry is in line for a security shake-up.

Tim Brown, head of research at Portcullis security company told ComputerworldUK: "May cites the example of car thefts in London, where a third no longer involves taking the owner's keys. When it comes to the motor industry fundamentally we're talking about an arms race, and car manufacturers, having had it their own way for a while with respect to cars, radios etc, are seeing the tables being turned.

"Some manufacturers, such as Tesla, have clearly heeded this call and are appointing 'ethical hackers' to drive this change, but more established players are yet to make that leap."

Security experts recently warned that automotive firms need to get to grips with software patching throughout the supply chain before connected cars reach critical mass.

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