Regulatory agencies are trying to use copyright law to crack down on dangerous tampering with automobile computers, sparking fears that they will stymie needed cybersecurity research. As Internet-connected cars proliferate on the roads, so too do the opportunities for hackers to uncover and possibly exploit software security flaws — for good and bad.
Concerns about who should and shouldn’t have access to vehicle software came to a head this summer when “white hat hackers” exploited a vulnerability and took control of a Jeep’s steering, brakes and transmission. The hackers demoed the stunt live on the highway, sparking concerns about how researchers go about disclosing vulnerabilities to manufacturers and the public.
“There have been instances where a researcher had in fact told a manufacturer and the manufacturer had not addressed the vulnerability,” Erik Stallman, general counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Hill.