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BT offers "ethical hacking" to car manufacturers in IoT push

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BT is employing a team of "ethical hackers" to test how secure connected cars are as the automotive industry moves towards the Internet of Things.

Car manufacturers are increasing turning to Wi-Fi, 3G/4G or Bluetooth to offer a range of connected services to consumers. Among the features on offer are traffic management, the reduction of carbon emissions, as well as increased safety and performance.

Figures from Gartner earlier this year said there will be 250 million connected cars on the roads by 2020, as the sector becomes a major part of the wider Internet of Things.

BT said it was forming the group of hackers in response to growing concerns about security risks. There are fears that access to a car's features could be gained, or information taken without an owner's consent.

The company will offer the service to manufacturers, insurance companies and other automotive players before a car hits the road. It will also offer ongoing support to protect cars from ongoing threats.

Hubertus von Roenne, Vice President Global Industry Practices at BT Global Services, said, “Vehicles are now connected devices, confronting manufacturers and suppliers with a whole new world of security challenges. For example, we have seen cars infected with malware while connected to a power charging station – because nobody had expected this would be possible.

"We use the expertise and knowledge of our Ethical Hacking consultants to identify these vulnerabilities – before others do. BT has decades of experience in securing connected devices and embedded systems across various industries and we are very proud to now offer that experience to the automotive industry.”

Udo Steininger, Head of Assisted and Automated Driving at certification body TÜV SÜD, added, “In a few years’ time, the majority of vehicles that are produced will be connected to the Internet or other networks, either for navigation, maintenance, cooperative driving or entertainment purposes, and the driver will expect the same usability he is used to from his smartphone. This bears complex challenges for the automotive industry, as cars are equipped with a number of embedded systems that have not been designed to be connected to the outside world.

"The industry needs to join forces, including with suppliers, IT security specialists and certification bodies, to agree on a common approach to interfaces and security standards for the Connected Car.”

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