Hacker Jacker

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When thinking about the risks of connected transportation or driverless vehicles, the worst-case scenario is always: What if the car goes out of control?

But now we have a worse one. What if the car is under someone else’s control?

Thanks to this recent test of a Jeep Cherokee, we now know that over-the-air hacking is not only a possibility, it’s not even that hard. These two, admittedly very skilled, guys did their hack after only about a year of reverse engineering. Since they plan to release (an almost complete) how-to guide in an attempt to get the major automakers to take them seriously, it’s about to get a bunch easier for aspiring young evildoers who want to cause havoc or make money through tech extortion.

This is a big issue, but it raises a bigger one: over-the-air hacking is a thing and we need to know what that means for the IoT. Or, more specifically, for its security. Our whole industry is predicated on cutting the cord. We need wireless transmission of data and with security problems like being able to take over a system (like a car) just by grabbing the IP address from the cellular transmitter (you just need a simple scanner), from anywhere in the world (they were miles away during the Jeep exploit, and their first proof-of-concept was from across the U.S.), we have a problem.

It’s not just a security problem, either. It’s a trust problem. If consumers and business owners can’t trust that their valuable data and privacy are safe, they Will. Not. Buy. In.

The IoT will go the way of the Betamax and the laser disk.

We need to prove that we, as an industry, take this seriously. Yes, we need to patch the holes and prevent potential breaches, but it is as important that we do so loudly and publicly, where our customers can see it. The back room is not an option.

At the IoT Evolution Expo, August 17 to 20 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, we’ll be discussing, publicly and loudly, how to address the security issues inherent in the IoT, both at the exclusive Security Summit on the day before the regular conference, and in each of the tracks throughout the day. You really want to get in on this discussion. See you there.

I’ll be the one in dark glasses, holding a hardened phone and wearing a tinfoil hat.

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