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What are the cyber threats to autonomous (self-driving) and connected vehicles

As autonomous and connected vehicles become more prevalent, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats. Here are some of the most common cyber threats to autonomous and connected vehicles:

Remote hacking

Remote hacking is a type of cyber attack where an attacker gains unauthorised access to a computer system or network over a remote connection. This means that the attacker does not need to physically access the system or network, but instead can launch the attack from a remote location using the internet or other communication channels.

Remote hacking can be carried out in various ways, such as exploiting vulnerabilities in software or hardware, using phishing or social engineering techniques to trick users into revealing sensitive information, or brute force attacks where the attacker attempts to guess passwords or other credentials.

Once an attacker gains access to a system or network through remote hacking, they can potentially cause various types of harm, such as taking control of the vehicle for malicious purposes.

To prevent remote hacking, it is important to implement strong security measures, such as using firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems, regularly updating software and firmware to patch vulnerabilities, and using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. It is also essential to educate users about the risks of remote hacking and the importance of practicing good cybersecurity hygiene, such as avoiding clicking on suspicious links or opening unsolicited emails.

Malware and viruses

Malicious software, such as viruses or worms, can infect the vehicle’s systems and disrupt or disable its functions. For example, malware could affect the vehicle’s sensors, causing it to misinterpret road conditions or traffic signals. As the computer systems in these vehicles are complex, they cannot be serviced by the owner. It’s likely that if there’s a major intrusion, people may be without vehicles for weeks or months as the limited number of technicians attempts to write and deploy the fix, and install it into all affected vehicles.

Denial of service attacks

Hackers can launch denial of service (DoS) attacks on the vehicle’s communication systems, preventing it from receiving or transmitting data. This could disrupt the vehicle’s ability to communicate with other vehicles or traffic management systems, leading to traffic congestion or accidents.


Hackers can infect the vehicle’s systems with ransomware, which encrypts the data and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. This could disable the vehicle’s systems and prevent it from functioning until the ransom is paid.

Insider threats

Employees or contractors with access to the vehicle’s systems could intentionally or unintentionally cause harm to the vehicle’s systems. For example, an employee could intentionally install malware or steal sensitive data.

What could happen if a hacker takes over an autonomous truck?

If an autonomous truck was taken over by a hacker, the potential consequences could be severe and pose a significant risk to public safety.

  1. Loss of control: A hacker could take control of the autonomous truck’s systems, causing it to veer off course, accelerate, or brake suddenly, potentially causing a collision or other accidents.
  2. Tampering with sensors: Hackers could tamper with the truck’s sensors, such as lidar or radar, causing the truck to misinterpret road conditions or other vehicles, leading to unsafe driving conditions.
  3. Theft or ransom: Hackers could steal the truck or its cargo, or demand a ransom in exchange for restoring control of the truck’s systems.
  4. Data theft: Hackers could steal sensitive data, such as route information, cargo details, or other confidential information, which could have serious consequences for businesses and individuals.
  5. Disrupting operations: A hacker could disrupt the truck’s operations, causing delays or other disruptions to supply chains or transportation networks.

How is the threat being mitigated?

To mitigate these cyber threats, manufacturers of autonomous and connected vehicles are implementing Given these potential risks, it is essential that manufacturers of autonomous trucks and other vehicles implement strong security measures to prevent hacking, such as using secure communication protocols, implementing encryption and authentication measures, and regularly updating software and firmware to patch vulnerabilities. Additionally, manufacturers are working to increase the awareness and training of users and employees to identify and report potential cyber threats. Finally, it is important to regularly test and evaluate the security of autonomous trucks and other vehicles to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by hackers.s. Additionally, manufacturers are working to increase the awareness and training of users and employees to identify and report potential cyber threats.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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