The Security Ledger

Cyber Lemons: Lawsuit alleges Hackable Cars Pose Risks to Consumers


A lawsuit alleges that car makers are violating consumer protection laws: selling vehicles that are susceptible to hacking and may be dangerous.

In-brief: A lawsuit filed in California charges U.S. automakers with endangering their customers by failing to protect ‘connected vehicle’ features from cyber attack. 

Computerworld reports on a lawsuit filed by a Dallas, Texas firm alleging that three, major U.S. automakers have failed to take basic precautions to secure vehicles from hackers and cyber attacks.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by attorney Marc Stanley, is on behalf of three vehicle owners and “all others similarly situated.” The suit charges automakers with producing defective products, alleging that automobiles are open to hackers who can take control of basic functions and endanger the safety of the driver and passengers.

“Toyota, Ford and GM have deliberately hidden the dangers associated with car computer systems, misleading consumers,” Stanley said in a statement.

[Read more Security Ledger coverage of connected vehicles.]

This may be the first known class action lawsuit that specifically addresses cyber vulnerabilities in connected vehicles. However, the issue of securing connected cars is gaining traction in Washington D.C. and elsewhere. U.S. Senator Ed Markey issued a report last month that suggested automakers were rushing headlong to adopt “connected car” features such as wireless Internet connections without fully weighing the security and privacy implications of such features.


Image courtesy of Veracode.

In December a group representing leading foreign automakers that do business in the U.S. released guidelines to protect consumer data collected by in-vehicle technologies and to make sure that car owners consent to the collection of data from vehicles including geolocation information and biometric identifiers.

A recent report from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that consumers are desirous of connected features but are also wary of the dangers posed by vulnerable and hackable automobiles. Those concerns, McKinsey found, could dampen demand for connected vehicles if they are not addressed.

Read via Lawsuit seeks damages against automakers and their hackable cars | Computerworld.

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