Senators Introduce Bill to Protect Connected Cars from Hackers

by Keith Wagstaff /  / Updated 

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After hackers proved that they could remotely disable a Jeep, two U.S. senators introduced a bill aiming to protect people who drive connected cars.

The Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act, introduced on Tuesday by Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, looks to set new security standards for automakers.

Increasingly, drivers are being offered features that let them locate, unlock and control aspects of their cars from smartphones and touchscreens.

The problem? Those features can be hacked. On Tuesday, Wired published an account of two hackers who were able to cut the transmission of a Jeep Cherokee by accessing its Uconnect system from a laptop that was 10 miles away. (Fiat Chrysler, which owns Jeep, has released a software update).

On the same day the Wired story was published, Blumenthal and Markey released the details of the SPY Car Act.

The legislation requires automakers to isolate critical software systems to limit damage during attacks, and to find a way to identify and stop hacks in real time. It also puts limits on how car companies can collect user data.

Those factors would be combined into one score, which would then be displayed in the windows of new cars.

"Rushing to roll out the next big thing, automakers have left cars unlocked to hackers and data-trackers," Blumenthal said in a statement. "This common-sense legislation protects the public against cybercriminals who exploit exciting advances in technology like self-driving and wireless connected cars."

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