- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2016

The growing number of high-tech cars that connect to the Internet is making Americans increasingly at risk of being hacked behind the wheel, the FBI warned Thursday.

In a public service announcement put out in conjunction with the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the FBI this week advised consumers to be aware of the cybersecurity risks involved with cars that use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other platforms to send and receive data.

“Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy and greater overall convenience. Aftermarket devices are also providing consumers with new features to monitor the status of their vehicles. However, with this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats,” the bulletin begins.

“While not all hacking incidents may result in a risk to safety — such as an attacker taking control of a vehicle — it is important that consumers take appropriate steps to minimize risk. Therefore, the FBI and NHTSA are warning the general public and manufacturers — of vehicles, vehicle components and aftermarket devices — to maintain awareness of potential issues and cybersecurity threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles.”

But eight months after security researchers demonstrated how a commercially available Jeep Cherokee could be remotely hacked — and prompted Chrysler to recall roughly 1.4 million vehicles in response — experts said this week that the government’s warning is more than just a little late.

“It seems super delayed,” Chris Valasek, one-half of the team that successfully hacked the Jeep, told Wired on Thursday. “But it’s good advice. … People take the FBI seriously.”

Even before this week’s bulletin was released, however, a new study suggested that Americans are becoming aware of the risks that come with high-tech cars.

The results of a survey conducted by Kelley Blue Book concluded earlier this month that 42 percent of American support making cars more connected, while 62 percent expressed concern that increased connectivity will make autos more easily hacked.

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