Internet-linked cars vulnerable to hackers, consumer group says

A new report by more than a dozen whistleblowers suggests that internet-connected cars are a large national security threat.

Consumer Watchdog issued the report titled "Kill Switch: Why connected cars can be killing machines and how to turn them off."

It also released an interview with one of the whistleblowers who argued that controlling a car with a cellphone over the internet is susceptible to major hacks, possibly from foreign adversaries.

"You can control all sorts of aspects of your car from your smartphone, including starting the engine, starting the air conditioning, checking on its location. Well if you can do it with your smartphone anybody else can over the internet," he said.

There are already many internet-connected cars out on the road but Consumer Watchdog says it's concerned about that number growing exponentially.

"Most of the major automakers have committed to having their entire fleet, every new car that they sell in model year 2020, be connected with the internet," the whistleblower said.

They argue deaths and injuries could be major during a major fleet-wide hack. "Suddenly you're driving your car, the brakes no longer work and the airbag blows up in your face for no reason," he said. "We're going to have collisions all over the place."

The group is lobbying for state leaders and Congress to step in, saying the cars are simply not safe, and advocating for a kill switch which would disconnect the internet from the critical parts of the car.

They argue automakers know about the problem and have disclosed it to investors.

KABC-TV reached out to many of the car companies mentioned in the report. Hyundai told KABC-TV in part, it stands behind the safety of its vehicles and requires multiple layers of security systems for the technology available on its cars.
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