House panel raises concerns over auto cybersecurity

Legislators have asked automakers and the NHTSA to work together to develop strategies that will minimize cybersecurity risks associated with emerging technologies.

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee has raised concerns over cybersecurity in the automotive industry.

The panel acknowledges the clear benefits of modern transportation and communications technologies such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and autonomous systems. Committee leaders are worried that such technologies will bring a new era of potential vulnerabilities that regulators may not be currently equipped to handle.

"The explosion of new, connected devices and services is exacerbating existing cybersecurity challenges and has introduced another potential consequence - the threat of physical harm - as products responsible for public health and safety are integrated into the Internet ecosystem," the bipartisan group wrote. "While threats to vehicle technology currently appear isolated and disparate, as the technology becomes more prevalent, so too will the risks associated with it."

Legislators wrote letters to 17 automakers asking for more information on current initiatives. The group also calls for cooperation between rival companies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop strategies that minimize security risks associated with emerging technologies.

"Threats and vulnerabilities in vehicle systems may be inevitable, but we cannot allow this to undermine the potential benefits of these technologies," the letters add. "The industry and NHTSA have an opportunity to prepare for the challenges that advanced vehicle technologies present, and to develop strategies to mitigate the risks."

The automakers have been asked to submit initial responses by June 11.

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