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UPDATED: Control-Auto-Delete: The Legal Questions About Hacking Into Cars

Updated on: 2/13/2019

Wired Magazine, a publication at the forefront of technological news, published a story by Andy Greenberg in which the author volunteers to drive a Jeep Cherokee undergoing a cyber attack. What does "cyber attack" mean? Greenberg sums up the worrying issue in the article like this: 

Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country

In the story Greenberg describes driving the jeep and losing control over the air conditioning, music, and his accelerator, forcing him to coast to a stop under a bridge along a highway. This isn't the first time he's driven a compromised vehicle. Hackers were also able to decelerate a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius (a control the steering when the latter was put into reverse).  Cars vulnerable to hacking

As cars become more efficient through computerized processes do they become less safe? 

What can be done about automobile hacking?

We are cyber-vulnerably. Robotic cars are coming. Uber wants to replace its drivers will efficient navigation bots. But even if that weren't the case, nothing needs to be done immediately as many vehicles aren't networked enough to be vulnerable, but as this year's model becomes next year's used car security will have to be increased. Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal are working on a bill that would make transport computers consistently safe, but it's still unclear how security will be implemented:

  • Will the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversee computer code for these vehicles?
  • Will companies be in charge of releasing their own software patches? 
  • How will federal regulators enforce software updates? 
  • Who will be liable when the software updates create gaps in protection instead of eliminating them? 
  • How will cyber vehicle attacks be authenticated?
  • How will insurance companies cover policy-holders who suffer damages from a cyber attack of this nature? 
  • What has been done?

Chrysler is recalling 1.4 million Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Chrysler vehicles in the wake of this revelation. Recalls are fairly common, but this might demonstrate a shift toward cyber security. 

If you have been involved in a car accident, contact Davis Law Group today.

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