Digital Forensics

The IIoT and Autonomous Vehicle Risks

21 January 2019

Many of us have seen self-driving vehicles in movies such as I, Robot, Batman, and Minority Report, and may have thought the reality of seeing those vehicles on the road or even driving one, was incredibly far into the future. But today, it may not be as far off as we once thought.

We may not be living in a world like The Jetsons, but many things featured in science fiction stories from decades ago are now becoming part of our imminent reality.

Who's Building These Vehicles?

Industry giants such as Tesla, Honda, Toyota, Uber, Hyundai, Volvo, BMW, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, and Google, to name a few, all have researchers and developers working on the construction and improvement of vehicle automation, and some are already selling vehicles as we speak. Many of these vehicles have lower levels of automation, such as 2 or 3 (partial or conditional automation), but a number of manufacturers are expected to release a level 5, which is full automation by 2020.

Risks of Interconnectivity in Vehicle Development

As the marketplace continues to prime for a full introduction of truly autonomous vehicles, there is a real need to assess and prepare for security risks. One thing that we have all learned in the last 20 years is that if something can be hacked, it will be hacked. The autonomous vehicle system will be a massive undertaking, involving millions of connections and endpoints, in the public and private space, and is not immune.

As the population becomes more and more obsessed with interconnectivity, it's only natural for them to want it in their vehicles. But, at what cost?

"When data is collected and potentially accessible by third parties, technicians, big data collection points, and even intruders such as hackers, it begs the question, will personal privacy become an issue in both criminal and civil litigation? And, who will have access to all of this collected data and for what reasons?"

Recently, I assisted in crafting Envista's latest white paper, The Future of Autonomous Vehicles, Risk with Privacy and Tracking, and I touched on this very subject. I, and other Envista experts, put a sharp focus on manufacturing liabilities, legal concerns, and even possible driver implications as it pertains to autonomous vehicles. And, to help fully understand liability, we also incorporated further research and background on autonomous vehicle functionality including how they operate, and their accident prevention and collision avoidance systems.

"Imagine getting into your car, pressing the start button and having a ransomware message appear, 'If you want to start your car, send $500.'"

There are pros and cons to any new innovation, and the world of autonomous vehicles is no different; it brings with it a new area of litigation expertise and niche of forensic proficiency. Read our whitepaper for more information.


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