• November 7th, 2016

Ford, GM, Toyota and VW are just a handful of the car manufacturers planning to put self-driving cars on the road in the next five years. If you ask Uber or Tesla, they might say driverless cars have already arrived… which means we’re running out of time to secure one of the juiciest new targets for hackers.

Hacking a car is easy. Just ask Tesla, Jeep or Mitsubishi. As self-driving cars reach the masses, they’ll dramatically raise the stakes for cybersecurity. If your computer gets hacked, it can be costly. If your car gets hacked, it can be deadly.

The Department of Transportation’s (DoT) recent guidance on self-driving cars is a good start in addressing cybersecurity, but leaves a lot to be desired. Granted, the DoT does admit its lack of technical expertise, and requests special hiring tools to attract security experts who can best vet this new technology.

But we can’t afford to wait long for stricter rules. The current language — words like “best practices,” “guidance” and “should” — leaves room for wide interpretation that could leave cars vulnerable. Here’s how the DoT can take a page from other industries and keep drivers safe without slowing the advance of self-driving technology.