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Autonomous vehicles should be secure against cyber attack, insurers warn

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Vehicles should have a sufficient level of security to guard against cyber attacks before they are allowed to be used in fully autonomous mode, the insurance industry has urged.

Setting out suggested criteria for keeping automation safe, initially on motorways, the Association of British Insurers says automated driving systems “must be able to detect and minimise the consequences of cyber intrusions and data security breaches”.

ABI’s director of general insurance policy James Dalton said: “Insurers are major supporters of autonomous vehicles, which have the potential to dramatically improve road safety as well as transform mobility for thousands.”

This is to protect against the risk of hackers using connected services to spread viruses or to remotely access a vehicle’s controls with potentially disastrous results. 

The recommendation, made at an ABI event on automated vehicles, is one of ten that insurers and research body Thatcham Research hope will be made part of a set of regulations all vehicles would have to meet.

“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,” said Dalton.

“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.”

Vehicle manufacturers are also recognising the importance of good cyber security, particularly given the growing number of connected vehicles already on the roads.


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