Tech's great, hacking causes concern

It's amazing how far our cars have come in the past decade.  Just stop for a second and cast your mind back to what the technology was like in our cars at the turn of the century. 

Fast forward 15 years and cars still have four wheels, but inside and out they've moved on at autobahn speed.

Cars have developed self awareness, courtesy or motion sensors, cameras and other types of machine to machine technology.  Who knows when they're going to develop human-like emotions.  If it happens, it's going to bring a whole new dimension to behavioural change in vehicle fleet management!

Inside the car we're getting our eyes and ears attuned to infotainment systems that make the car an even more fun place to be.  Connected to the outside world, wherever we travel, we're never far away.

I just love how technology is taking the car to the next level. But back to the here and the now, and the topic of this blog: hacking.  The car is capable of doing all this great stuff because it's connected to the outside world.  The good guys are using connection to make it happen, but I'm afraid that the bad guys have an access route into the car too.

This summer some gaps have been revealed.  News broke that Volkswagen took out a high court injunction in the UK two years ago preventing academic researchers revealing how hackers could potentially break into thousands of cars via a flaw that powers the immobilizers.

Cars have always been attractive to thieves so high tech crime should come as a shock.  We're going to be battling the thieves like we've always done. 

But perhaps more troubling is hackers taking control of cars when we're behind the wheel.  This type of threat has never existed before, but it's alive and kicking with the connected car. 

The recall of 1.4 Fiat Chrysler Cherokees, after so called friendly-hackers demonstrated how they could take control the car, has shined a bright light on the issue. 

The friendly hackers got in through the cars infotainment system.  Once inside they started to roam and got to play with the radio, climate controls and windscreen wipers, before taking control of 'big' things like the car's acceleration. Serious stuff.

Just imagine someone taking control of a fleet of company cars - or just one - to exhort money. And it's not just taking control of the car that matters, there's a car data question too. Imagine a hacker tracking every site your sales team travels too and then selling the information to the competition. 

New security risks in fleet are appearing because of connection and we, in the fleet community, need to open our eyes to them.

So what's the solution?  Some say the best protection is to drive a simple car.  But where's the fun in that?  Should fear mean we roll back the clock?  We'll lose out on some many of the optimisation opportunities that connected technology offers the TCO equation, and we'll never see the next stage of innovation.

The solution is for good guys to join forces and defeat the bad guys.  Fleet has a part to play, so it's time to get connected to the discussion and see what we can do to help. What is your suggestion?

Authored by: Steven Schoefs