The Strategist

Lawsuits Against Toyota, GM And Ford - Seek Damages Over Hacking Risks

03/11/2015 - 18:22

A Senate report claims that automakers have not addressed security flaws.

Lawsuits Against Toyota, GM And Ford - Seek Damages Over Hacking Risks
A class action lawsuit filed against Toyota, General Motors and Ford, claims that the automakers have intentionally put consumers at high risk by selling cars that are susceptible to hacking. The lawsuit filed in the US District Court of California alleging that the major carmakers did not disclosed to the consumers about the risk associated with computer based cars and failed to provide measures to safeguard cars from hackers. The issue was pointed out on February, when hackers took complete control over the car and operated horns, wipers and even brakes by means of a laptop.  Consequently, these cars are vulnerable to computer hacking and therefore not safe. As the defendants failed to confirm electronic security of these vehicles, anyone through hacking can get control of functions of the car and thereby endanger the security of the driver and others.

The lawsuit claimed that a considerable premium was charged for controller area network (CAN) bus-equipped vehicles. It further argues that the business practices adopted by the automakers were deceptive and fraudulent as they failed to disclose about security flaws. If the consumers would have been aware about the flaws, they would not have purchased the car or would have paid significantly lower amount than they actually did.

According to 2013 study by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), this defect indicates a real time threat to the safety of driver as well as the passengers. The agency said that DARPA shared findings of the defect with the carmakers so that they could take necessary steps to address the flaw but they did not do anything. The automobile manufacturers implemented the technology without addressing the biggest concerns about hacker infiltration into car systems. According to a report, only two automakers were able to explain the process to diagnose and respond to an infiltration.
In November 2014, around 19 largest automobile manufacturers agreed to driver privacy protection in a technological age where the car computer collects every information from location to speed and even the smartphone used by the driver. All this was part of principles stated in a 19-page letter, submitted to the Federal Trade Commission by two largest trade associations of the industry, the Association of Global Automakers (AGA) and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM). According to a test in 2014, the hackers demonstrated that they can easily create electronic equivalent of the key required to unlock the car’s networks.

Cars manufactured by Ford, GM and Toyota possess more than 35 electronic control units (ECUs) connected by CAN. The security, privacy and functionality of vehicles are reliant on these units functioning efficiently and clearly communicating with each other. The technological specifications including, entertainment systems and built-in navigation can be useful for the consumers however, the past tests performed by industry groups and manufacturers have identified that the features are susceptible to hackers who can easily change the operations of a vehicle. Just as Honda has been compelled to recall vehicles and repair the deadly airbags, similarly Toyota, Ford and GM should be forced to recollect the cars with dangerous electronic systems.