(Adds comment on security from Reuters video on car hacking)
By Jim Finkle
BOSTON, Sept 16 Two U.S. senators have asked the
world's biggest automakers for information on steps they have
taken to protect cars from being hacked, as attention on vehicle
security has surged following the first car recall over a cyber
Democratic Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal
wrote to 18 automakers on Wednesday asking about efforts taken
to secure vehicles including 2015 and 2106 models. They asked
automakers how they test electronic components and
communications systems to ensure attackers cannot gain access to
Concerns about auto cyber security have grown since July,
when researchers gained remote control of a moving Jeep,
prompting Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to recall
some 1.4 million vehicles for a software update.
The request from the senators follows a review that Markey
began in December 2013. He concluded in a February 2015 report
that the spread of technology connecting vehicles to networks
had outpaced industry and government efforts to protect vehicles
The senators said they want to know what automakers have
done since the last survey to beef up security.
Modern cars typically have dozens of small computers that
connect to multiple external networks, making them vulnerable to
cyber attacks similar to ones waged on traditional computer
systems. Researchers have said attackers could put lives at risk
if they can gain remote control of key vehicle systems such as
steering and acceleration.
"As vehicles become increasingly connected to the Internet,
and to one another through advanced features and services, we
continue to see how these technologies present vulnerabilities
that can compromise the safety and privacy of drivers and
passengers," the senators' letter said.
They added that the industry has made some progress in
recent years. "We appreciate that many automotive companies have
begun to take concrete steps to close these security gaps."
Letter recipients included BMW, Fiat Chrysler,
Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Co
and Volkswagen AG.
Security experts have said it will take years for carmakers
to plug security holes because they have been adding computers
to vehicles for two decades, but only recently started seriously
looking for security bugs.
"They've been trying to fix the problems, but it takes a
long time," said Chris Rouland, founder and chief technology
officer of cyber security firm Bastille, said in a Reuters.com
video on car hacking. (reut.rs/1iP9njI)
(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by David Gregorio)