When software can be updated as it is on any mobile device, new threats can be addressed in near real-time.
Unlike the financial services or healthcare industry, the automobile industry offers less of a financial incentive for hackers. While vehicle infotainment systems may someday allow drivers to purchase goods and services, it's not a widespread feature and isn't expected to be anytime soon.
What does loom as a larger threat from hackers is ransomware and terrorism, Abuelsamid and Juliussen said.
For example, a hacker could encrypt a vehicle's infotainment system, denying access and then blackmail either the vehicle owner or the carmaker to release it.
For terrorists, the potential to shut down a fleet of vehicles or a transportation system would be considered low-hanging fruit.
"That's probably what's scaring [the auto industry] the most," Juliussen said. "They'll spend lots of time and money to do that. If you could disable even 10,000 cars in the New York area or any other place, that would be a total disaster."
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