Washington: Researchers have suggested that cars could one day become the victim of cyber attacks that will compromise electronic systems and endanger passenger safety.
The following scenario has been suggested by researchers at the University of California San Diego and the University of Washington.
Cars have ceased being purely mechanical machines and already have a huge amount of electronics that are controlled by thousands of lines of software code that relay critical data over onboard computer networks.
As vehicles are integrated with mobile phones and gain internet access, bluetooth connections, infotainment services, diagnostics, telematics and downloadable apps, there is a risk that they can also suffer the same viruses and malicious cyber attacks that cause problems in other IT systems.
However, carmakers and suppliers have said that this is currently a purely theoretical problem and there are no known cases of a cyber attack causing a car to crash.
Hackers are often not motivated by financial gain but simply wish to prove their ability to crack a system for the bragging rights.
Therefore, as the automobile industry is moving towards a future of "autonomous" driving, where vehicles are able to steer and brake by themselves, carmakers are also waking up to the potential risks of the "connected vehicle" and investing lots of resources to prevent safety-critical systems from getting compromised.