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Several months ago, I bought my first new car in years. I had planned to buy a used one, but decided a shiny new vehicle would be a pandemic treat. I’ve been amazed by the connected car technology, all the embedded software-driven programs that essentially have turned the car into APIs on wheels.
I thought about this more in late January when a 19-year-old in Germany made international news with a creepy revelation: He was able to remotely access more than 25 Tesla vehicles and, if he wanted, could have controlled some of their functions, including unlocking the doors, opening the windows and even starting keyless driving.
The story had a happy ending. The teenager, David Colombo, is a white-hat hacker who uses his skills to identify security flaws. That’s how he discovered the holes in a third-party data logging app available to Tesla owners, TeslaMate, that allowed him to push commands to the cars. Colombo notified TeslaMate and Tesla, and a fix was quickly issued.
The proliferation of connected cars
But the incident has served as an unsettling reminder that security vulnerabilities are a clear and present risk to all the connected cars that are reshaping the auto industry, and the very nature of driving, and that better safeguards must become a higher priority.
The technology disruption sweeping the automotive sector is accelerating rapidly. In August, President Biden signed an