Ford recently announced they will update the software on some of their vehicles to fix a coolant problem that can cause fires. 2013 Ford Escape SE and SEL models with the 1.6-liter engine and 2013 Ford Fusion SE and SEL models with the 1.6-liter engine are part of the voluntary recall which will modify the code which manages coolant pressure under certain overheating conditions – making it less likely that vehicles catch fire under the specified scenario.
Stuxnet taught the world that cybercriminals and regimes could not only affect computers but real-world devices like centrifuges.
In a more interconnected world it seems only a matter of time before automotive operating system software is updated over the Internet the way just about everything else is.
And so the excitement beigins – imagine if a criminal group or hostile nation figures out how to update the software governing coolant systems in cars of a specific manufacturer. They could target said vehicles and modify the algorithms for cooling, throttle response or anything else which could wreak havoc.
If you think traffic on the Long Island Expressway or 405 near Los Angeles is bad today, just wait till a rogue group starts making the vehicles around you start to catch fire.
This brings us back to the importance of protecting M2M from infiltration. Software security is now physical security and software controls not only the obvious things like power grids and other infrastructure-related areas of an economy but automobiles and subsequently transit systems.
Let’s hope we are prepared for this potentially very scary future where a single person can bring traffic on roads around the world to a grinding and potentially fiery halt.