United States: Reducing Cybersecurity Risks To Autonomous Vehicles

In June 2017, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced that her department is revising autonomous vehicle guidelines issued in September 2016. The new guidelines—which will be released later this year—are expected to address state deference to federal regulations, reporting requirements for accidents and other incidents involving test and production vehicles, human-machine interfaces, consumer education and training, post-crash behavior and crashworthiness.

According to "Chao Ponders Fed Role in Regulating Driverless Tech," a June 2017 Detroit News article, Secretary Chao met with auto executives and noted that while the future of autonomous vehicles is bright, "We have a responsibility to ensure that the new technology is safe and secure." Secretary Chao's emphasis on "safe and secure" hints that, in addition to the topics mentioned above, the 2017 Guidelines may improve existing guidance by addressing safety issues peculiar to autonomous vehicles. This includes the standardization of road markings and identifying conditions under which autonomous vehicles are not permitted to operate, such as weather restrictions.

Cybersecurity Breaches and Other Risks

It is critical that the security issues covered in the 2017 Guidelines meaningfully address autonomous vehicle data recording and sharing, privacy and cybersecurity. Cybersecurity issues are especially significant. Any software that connects to the internet is susceptible to a cybersecurity attack, and autonomous vehicles will have at least one internet connection. Exacerbating this inherent risk is the fact that some autonomous vehicles are developed by companies that are not original equipment manufacturers. These companies modify a vehicle developed by an OEM by introducing software, sensors and other devices that enable the vehicle to perform autonomous functions. As a result, the autonomous operations are being built using software and hardware that is separate from, or in addition to, software and hardware designed by the OEM. The autonomous functions also use computer networks that were not designed for a high level of automation and remote access. This development bifurcation is a prescription for cybersecurity gaps.

There have been several high-profile automotive cybersecurity breaches in recent years. In one breach, German researchers spoofed a cell phone station and sent fake messages to a SIM card used by a vehicle's telematics system (the system enabling the long-distance transmission of computerized information). This gave the researchers access to remote convenience features of the vehicle, allowing them to remotely unlock the vehicle's doors. Several other cybersecurity breaches involved remotely taking control of essential features of a car; one such breach enabled an unauthorized party to take control of various functions of the vehicle by plugging a device into a vehicle's on-board diagnostic port, where that pugged-in device was able to receive instructions remotely. In addition, in 2015, two unauthorized individuals hacked into a vehicle using its internet connection, and remotely stopped the vehicle on a highway. And in 2016, another vehicle's WiFi connection was breached, enabling an unauthorized party to take control of its driving systems.

Any type of malware that can put a home computer or smartphone at risk can similarly threaten autonomous vehicles. For example, ransomware attacks that encrypt all of the data on a computing device can be modified to take control of or stop the operation of a vehicle unless payment is made. A user of an autonomous vehicle might not have the luxury of time to figure out a solution to a vehicle that is not operational due to ransomware. These cybersecurity breaches can result in intentional damage to people, the vehicle and other property.

Weaknesses of the 2016 Guidelines

The automated vehicle guidelines issued by the Department of Transportation last year identified cybersecurity as one area of concern, but did not go far enough in addressing cybersecurity risks. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2016), Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, Washington, D.C. (2016 Guidelines).

The authors of the 2016 Guidelines did understand the cyberattack cat-and-mouse game in which hackers exploit weaknesses in networks as long as they remain unfixed, and then identify and exploit other weaknesses in a serial manner. Accordingly, those guidelines provide a framework for companies to approach cybersecurity problems. They do not propose specific technological solutions, however. Rather, the 2016 Guidelines rely on platitudes and are too tentative. For example, they suggest that manufacturers "follow a robust product development process based on a systems-engineering approach to minimize risks to safety" and employ "established best practices for cyber physical vehicle systems," but do not provide any meaningful guidance.

A separate report in October 2016 focuses on cybersecurity and provides additional suggestions, such as layered solutions to ensure that vehicles systems are designed to take appropriate and safe actions, even when an attack is successful. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2016, October), Cybersecurity best practices for modern vehicles, (Report No. DOT HS 812 333), §5. Washington, D.C. While this report provides additional guidance, it is still too tentative to meaningfully assure an adequate level of attention to the cybersecurity risk.

What Kinds of Solutions Should the 2017 Guidelines Identify?

The 2017 Guidelines should more forcefully propose a collaboration among autonomous vehicle manufacturers to address cybersecurity risks. They should also mandate the reporting of any cybersecurity attack to both the collaborative body and the government, to better share and address cybersecurity risks and solutions. In 2015, the automobile industry took a first step in this direction with the formation of the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center, whose charter includes the transparent sharing of vulnerability detection and best practices. However, participation in the Auto ISAC is voluntary, and its recommendations are not binding, even on its members.

The 2017 Guidelines should also require isolated networks: one network for non-essential vehicle operations such as infotainment and telematics functions, and another network for essential vehicle operations. They should also restrict or prevent direct communications between these networks, to make it more difficult for hackers to take control of essential vehicle operations—such as steering and braking—merely by penetrating internet facing software and data—such as a vehicle's browser, map or traffic data. Isolation may be achieved by implementing a separate physical network, or by using software that effectively isolates the network that controls essential vehicle operations from non-essential vehicle operations.

For software and firmware updates, which are already commonplace in electric vehicles, code signing using secure cryptographic keys—already in use by one vehicle manufacturer—should be required by the 2017 Guidelines.

Other possible cybersecurity solutions include requiring real-time attack detection and a real-time response. For example, when an attack is detected, the vehicle could be safely stopped and a clean version of the software or firmware could be reinstalled. Another solution would be to severely limit access to the internal control/diagnostic bus of the vehicle, which currently provides hackers with direct and easy access to the internal networks of vehicles.

Note to the Industry: Take More Forceful Action or Face Congressional Intervention

Autonomous vehicles are enticing targets for those carrying out cybersecurity attacks. Although the automotive industry has taken some voluntary action, it must take more meaningful steps to adopt cybersecurity measures; otherwise, the industry will face congressionally mandated cybersecurity protections.

For example, in March, the U.S. Senate introduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act of 2017 (S.680, 115th Congress (2017)), a bill designed to improve vehicle security and privacy. If passed, the legislation will require, inter alia, the isolation of critical software systems, i.e., those required for the operation of the vehicle, from noncritical systems.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
31 Aug 2017, Seminar, California, United States

In this legal series for technology startups, each session will cover an important legal topic relevant to your technology startup company such as securing finance, executive compensation, corporate formation, and intellectual property.

6 Sep 2017, Seminar, California, United States

The headlines have been quick to proclaim the Supreme Court’s recent decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods as a “game-changing” event that is “already remaking the patent litigation map.”

11 Sep 2017, Seminar, Chicago, United States

As the world’s economies grow increasingly integrated, the international tax laws of the U.S. impact a greater percentage of businesses and transactions. These international tax rules affect not only large U.S. and foreign-based multinationals, but also increasingly affect mid-sized and smaller firms, financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and other commercial activity.

 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.