Could hacking be a big traffic safety problem in the future?

One thing that has been becoming a bigger and bigger part of automobiles in modern times are computers. On-board computers have been getting more advanced and have been taking on more and more functions and wireless connectivity is becoming increasingly common in automobiles. Computer technology is being used to try to improve all sorts of things about cars, from their on-board entertainment systems to auto safety.

And it seems as though the role of computers in cars is only going to get larger over the next couple of decades. In the future, electronic and computer systems might actually be doing the driving of vehicles, as it is thought that self-driving cars may not be too far around the corner.

Unfortunately, the increased amount of electronic/computer technology and wireless connections in cars could perhaps be creating a new risk when it comes to cars: the risk of being hacked.

Given how many things on-board computers control in cars today, if the computers of a car were hacked, it could pose significant problems.

For one, it could leave a person's privacy exposed, as hacking a car could allow a hacker to access data regarding a person's driving or the location of the car (and thus the location of its driver).

Hacking could also pose traffic safety problems. If a hacker got into a car's computer systems, among the things they could potentially affect are the car's movements and its indicator systems (like its lights). One could easily see how these things getting messed with by a hacker could lead to a car getting into an accident.

There are concerns that there might currently not be enough hacking protections when it comes to the electronic systems of cars, and thus that hacking problems could arise in the future.

What do you think about the issue of hacking and cars? Do modern cars have a hacking vulnerability problem? Should automakers be doing more to protect the computer systems of their vehicles? Should the government consider putting rules in place regarding what sort of anti-hacking measures automakers need to take in regards to their vehicles? Do you think that the hacking issue will be a significant traffic safety issue in upcoming years?

Source: ABC News, "The Scary Things Hackers Can Do to Your Car," Susanna Kim, Feb. 9, 2015

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