The concept of technology as a benefit or hindrance to society is a topic that has been subject to much debate since can be remembered. Does it help or does it hurt? New technology brings revolutionary ideas to fruition. It shrinks our planet and lets us communicate with the touch of a finger. It also makes us increasingly vulnerable to surveillance and possibly uninvited monitoring by potentially malicious third-parties. Major hacks in recent years have led to a surge in cyber insurance as corporate behemoths like Target and Sony have found themselves the victim of vicious digital hacks. Yet, it is not just these corporate giants who need to directly address the issue of technology’s perpetual innovation. It is the layman. It is the average joe. It is anyone with a car.
In fact, recent car thefts across the nation have been largely the product of digital thieves. These criminals are apparently using laptops to hack into late-model automobiles’ electric ignitions and then hopping in and taking off. This is a fairly recent discovery. In Houston, a couple of perpetrators were seen on camera furiously typing away, only to start a 2010 Jeep Wrangler and then steal it from the owner’s driveway. According to police, this method may also be responsible for the theft of four other late-model Wranglers and Cherokees as well.
However, that’s just Houston and in reality, this is a national issue. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (an insurance-industry group that tracks car thefts across America) said it has seen a recent spike in the theft of late-model cars and what police describe as “mystery” electronic devices. Frankly, this seems to be a prevailing trend that is not likely to disappear anytime soon.
This raises questions about technology’s increasing integration into new vehicles, and automobile manufacturers recognize such. For instance, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been cited saying that “it takes the safety and security of its customers seriously and incorporates security features in its vehicles that help to reduce the risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems and wireless communications.”
The intriguing part to this is the prevailing element of mystery. We have yet to really figure out what and how car thieves are taking advantage of newer models’ security systems. It is speculated that the thieves in question are hacking into the car to marry another wireless fob or something of the sort to the vehicle that they can then use to start the car. It may also be the case that thieves are somehow gaining access to the dealer website and are then, after entering the vehicle identification number on the site, are receiving a code that they can enter into the car’s computer as the new key.
Regardless of how it’s being done, the fact is that these newer vehicles are clearly quite vulnerable to digital attacks and as a result companies need to take greater measures to decrease their products’ susceptibility to theft. Although Fiat Chrysler, General Motors Co, and Tesla Motors Inc have all had to already alter their car’s electronic systems,I expect they will continue to have to do so. Crime is going nowhere and technology is becoming more advanced, more pervasive, and more integrated. It’s only right that cyber-security is forced to develop in conjunction with the rest.