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Report: Automakers Ill-Equipped to Protect Against Hacking

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Feb. 9, 2015—Automakers that are including wireless capabilities into new vehicles are inadequately protecting those systems from cyber threats, according to a report from The New York Times.

After seeing how hackers are able to breach the wireless systems put into new vehicles and then gain complete control over the vehicle—acceleration, turning, sounding the horn, turning headlights off or on, and modifying speedometer and gas-gauge readings—Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., asked automakers about the technologies and any safeguards against hackers built into the vehicles.

Of the 16 auto manufacturers he reached out to, just two said they have precautions in place to deal with one of its cars being hacked in real time. Most other automakers said they wouldn’t have any idea if one of their cars was being hacked or was a victim of cyber intrusion unless data from the vehicle's computers was downloaded by a dealer or at a service center.

Markey also found that each automaker is handling the introduction of wireless technology in vehicles in different ways, and according to the security experts Markey consulted for the study, these actions are insufficient to ensure maximum security in the cars wireless system.

BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen-Audi and Volvo all responded to requests from Markey. Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Tesla didn't reply to his request for information.

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