Self driving car seeing obstacles breaking automatically

The Car Hacking Village is a group of professional and hobbyist car hackers who work together to provide hands-on, interactive car hacking talks, hardware and interactive contests.

The organization believes drivers deserve safe and reliable travel as modern cars are now more computerized than ever.

I Am The Cavalry spoke with the Car Hacking Village team about their work.

Q: Can you describe what the Car Hacking Village is and how it works?

A: The Car Hacking Village is a way to get hands-on experience with vehicles. We provide vehicles, vehicle components, and unique challenges for people to participate in. The village supports both experts and those who have never worked on a vehicle before. Unlike sitting through a talk, participants get hands-on experience working directly with a technology. We have challenges worth different points, and you can compete against teams for prizes. The Car Hacking Village has experts that will help get you started as well. The automotive industry needs security researchers yet many researchers are not comfortable with vehicles or do not know what their concerns are. The Car Hacking Village is a way to bridge that divide.

Q: What are the current security threats to automobiles? Why should people care about them?

A: As more vehicles get telematics, it expands the attack surface.  An attack surface is an area an attacker can target to find a vulnerability. Telematics connects vehicles to cellular networks or other wireless systems, introducing a risk of a third-party attacker gaining access to your vehicle. The security challenges to vehicles are unique as a consumer owns the vehicle. As a security researcher, you cannot simply lock down the vehicle as the consumer still needs access to do repairs or modifications. It’s important to have a safe vehicle without losing your rights as a consumer.

Q: How does connected technology make cars a target for malicious actors?

A: Before wireless technology was installed in vehicles, attackers would need physical access or close proximity to a vehicle. With cellular or other telematics, it is possible to attack a vehicle or even a fleet of vehicles remotely from across the globe.

Q: How does your work help make average people’s lives safer?

A: Vehicles added telematics because the technology provides a lot of benefits. Remote patches to your vehicle, enhanced service capabilities, remote unlock/start, and countless other features. Newer assisted driving technology allows for a supercruise/self-driving-like experience. These are great advancements. Looking over the systems to ensure they work as intended and are not outside of the consumer’s control is very important. When security is done right, you get all the benefits with no noticeable loss of usability.

Q: Why is this type of event, with experts working together, so important?

A: Security should not be considered a trade secret. We are stronger together and sharing security knowledge throughout the industry lifts everyone up.