ABI warns on cyber security for driverless cars

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has urged that driverless vehicles should have a sufficient level of security to guard against cyber attacks, before they are allowed to operate in fully autonomous mode.

The insurance body said that automated driving systems should be able to detect and minimise the impact of cyber intrusions and data security breaches, as it set out suggested criteria to safeguard automation on the roads.

Connected vehicle services could allow hackers to spread viruses or remotely access a vehicle’s controls, warned the ABI, meaning that strong cyber security could become more important for vehicles than physical features such as locks and immobilisers.

Its recommendation, made at an event on automated vehicles, is one of ten that insurers and research body Thatcham Research hope to see become a requirement for all driverless vehicles before they are allowed to operate in fully autonomous mode on UK roads. Other recommendations include vehicle data being available after an accident, and vehicles being able to handle emergency situations without driver intervention.

“Insurers are major supporters of autonomous vehicles, which have the potential to dramatically improve road safety as well as transform mobility for thousands,” said James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy at the ABI.

“However it is important that the transition from increasingly sophisticated driver assistance systems, already operating in modern cars, to fully autonomous vehicles is carefully handled to avoid unnecessary problems.

“In our increasingly connected world, cyber security is a crucial issue for everything from televisions to fitness trackers. Our cars are no different. If people are to put their trust in a vehicle to get them safely from A to B, building in appropriate cyber security is essential and should be a compulsory requirement before any car is allowed to effectively drive itself.

“It’s easy to imagine that a vehicle’s cyber security systems will soon be its most important crime prevention feature, ensuring the cars of the future are protected from data thefts and other malicious attacks.”

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