A close-up of a car with possible cyber security issues.

Do new cars have a cyber security issue?

Our devices are becoming smarter and smarter. From our cell phones to our television sets. As the automobile industry begins to invest in self-driving cars and advanced, integrated computer systems, some U.S. regulators are advising that they create greater cyber security measures.

Cars Left Vulnerable Without Proper Cyber Security

The computers on modern cars operate important vehicle controls and store personal data. If hackers are able to access them, then there is no telling what sort of danger they can put drivers and their passengers in.

Unfortunately, regulators at the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can only recommend that the automobile manufacturers follow their cyber security guidelines. Automakers say they are taking them into consideration, but some feel like their word is not enough.

“This new cybersecurity guidance from the Department of Transportation is like giving a take-home exam on the honor code to failing students,” Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a joint statement. “If modern day cars are computers on wheels, we need mandatory standards, not voluntary guidance, to ensure that our vehicles cannot be hacked and lives and information put in danger.”

Some cars have already been hacked. A line of Fiat Chrysler automobiles was recalled last year because of a security threat to its onboard computer. Another instance of a cyber security breach occurred with a Jeep Cherokee. As part of a test in July of this year, data security researchers were able to take remote control of a Jeep Cherokee with just a laptop. They only had access to the transmission and brakes. However, in malicious hands, this amount of control is enough to cause an accident.

Does this make you weary of the future of smart cars? Hopefully, regulators will be able to enforce stricter and mandatory cyber security guidelines. Otherwise, the safety of American drivers is at stake.