UK Government urges autonomous and connected car manufacturers to combat hacking threat


The UK Government has called on vehicle manufacturers to do more to combat the threat of hacking for a new generation of internet-connected ‘intelligent’ cars.

As smart vehicles become more widespread on Britain’s roads, giving drivers access to new connected services such as maps, travel information and digital radio services, the government fears would-be hackers could target them in order to access personal data, steal cars that use keyless entry, or try to take control of their technology.

The government has issued new guidance for engineers developing smart and autonomous vehicles, setting out eight principles for how the automotive sector can make sure cyber security is properly considered at every level.

“Our cars are becoming smarter and self-driving technology will revolutionise the way in which we travel,” said Transport Minister Lord Callanan.

“Risks of people hacking into the technology might be low, but we must make sure the public is protected.”

The government hopes that the new measures – combined with those announced as part of the Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Bill in this year’s Queen’s Speech, which aims to create a new framework for self-driving vehicle insurance – will put Britain at the centre of new developments in smart and autonomous vehicles.

These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives.
— SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes

“Whether we’re turning vehicles into wifi connected hotspots or equipping them with millions of lines of code to become fully automated, it is important that they are protected against cyber-attacks,” continued Lord Callanan.

“That’s why it’s essential all parties involved in the manufacturing and supply chain are provided with a consistent set of guidelines that support this global industry.

“Our key principles give advice on what organisations should do, from the board level down, as well as technical design and development considerations.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “We’re pleased that government is taking action now to ensure a seamless transition to fully connected and autonomous cars in the future and, given this shift will take place globally, that it is championing cyber security and shared best practice at an international level.

“These vehicles will transform our roads and society, dramatically reducing accidents and saving thousands of lives.

“A consistent set of guidelines is an important step towards ensuring the UK can be among the first – and safest – of international markets to grasp the benefits of this exciting new technology.”