Will Car Hacking Replace Car Jacking?


Are The Days Numbered For Humans Behind The Wheel?

Guest Column

by Judith Bitterli, Chief Marketing Officer AVG Technologies

A driverless car recently made the journey from the Golden Gate Bridge in California and drove driverless 1cross-country to New York City. The car had a human companion, another car following for safety and didn’t drive at night. But for the most part, it drove itself.

The voyage was the longest autonomous drive attempt in the U.S., and has put driverless vehicles in the news again. The successful journey brought to mind a recent prediction from Elon Musk, the founder of electric car manufacturer Tesla, that the time when the driverless cars will be the norm and driving a car yourself might even be against the law is now upon us.

“[Legislators] may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous… You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine”.

While at first this might seem radical, I feel it’s a potentially realistic image of the future.

Google Driverless Car
Google Driverless Car

With Tesla and most major automakers – including Audi and Mercedes who showed off vehicles at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year – working on commercializing driverless cars along with tech giants like Google (and, reportedly, Apple), it’s a safe bet they will be commonplace in the next decade. For his part, Musk drew a relationship with elevators: When elevators first came about, each had an elevator operator.  But as people became more used to the technology, and elevators became more safe and efficient, the operators went away.

Certainly, there is a lot to consider with the day of the self-driving cars coming. At the Nvidia conference, which debuted the firm’s computer platform for driverless cars, security issues with autonomous cars were also highlighted.

As Musk noted, there are some basic security concerns to deal with to make sure that people won’t be able to hack into vehicles.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into that, and we’ve had third parties try to hack it,” Musk said. He also said the threat of hackers taking over cars becomes more significant if the steering wheel and brake pedal disappear. Until then, he says drivers can override any potential problems.


As we’ve previously written in our Now.AVG blog, car hacking is already happening today with automated, smart devices including car locks. Imagine when the entire car is vulnerable?  According to a recent congressional inquiry by Senator Ed Markey, there is a widespread absence of security and privacy protection being taken into consideration as automakers race to embrace the technology without considering the implications. Clearly, the automotive and cybersecurity industries need to monitor autonomous technology very carefully, and adapt where needed.

Put simply, cars are another piece…a big piece… of the entire landscape of the Internet of Things, and if we are going to leave the driving to technology, we must make sure that it’s safe and secure.
About the author:

Judith-Bitterli-photoJudith Bitterli is Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Customer Services for AVG Technologies, the online security company with more than 188 million active users. She regularly blogs on the topic of technology for Boomers and Seniors at now.avg.com.

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Gary is an award-winning journalist who has been covering technology since IBM introduced its first personal computer in 1981. Beginning at NBC News, then at ABC News, Ziff Davis, CNN, and Fox Business Network. Kaye has a history of “firsts”. He was the first to bring a network television crew to the Comdex Computer Show, the first technology producer on ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, the first to produce live coverage of the Solar Power International Conference, and the creator of the Fox Business Network signature series, “Three Days In The Valley”. Along the way he created the History Channel Multimedia Classroom. He has been a contributor to both AARP’s website and to AARP radio, as well as to a handful of other print and web-based publications where he specializes in issues involving boomers/seniors and technology. He has been a featured speaker and moderator at industry events such as the Silvers Summit and Lifelong Tech Conferences at CES, the M-Enabling Health Summit, and the What’s Next Baby Boomer Business Summit. His column, “Technology Through Our Eyes” appears in half a dozen newspapers and websites across the country.


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