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The FBI has issued a warning to consumers about the risks of cyber attacks on smart cars that are connected to the internet. The announcement, issued along with the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), details the threats facing connected vehicles.

“Vehicle hacking occurs when someone with a computer seeks to gain unauthorised access to vehicle systems for the purposes of retrieving driver data or manipulating vehicle functionality,” they said in the statement.

“While not all hacking incidents may result in a risk to safety – such as an attacker taking control of a vehicle – it is important that consumers take appropriate steps to minimise risk.

“Therefore, the FBI and NHTSA are warning the general public and manufacturers – of vehicles, vehicle components and aftermarket devices – to maintain awareness of potential issues and cyber security threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles.”

In the announcement, posted online late last week, the agencies detailed previous research undertaken that showed how hackers could potentially shut down a connected car’s engine, disable its brakes or operate its steering mechanisms through an attack.

These and other features could be accessed through vulnerabilities in communication features, including in any smartphone or tablet connected to the car, they said.

Consumers were advised to update their vehicles’ software and be mindful of cyber security when making changes to the software or connecting third-party devices.

They should also be careful over who has physical access to their vehicles, they said.

 

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