The Senate’s SPY Car Act hopes to curb hackers from taking over your vehicle

Senator Edward J. Markey
Senator Edward J. Markey
Following a frightening and eye-opening exploitation of Chrysler’s Uconnect system this week, a new Senate bill looks to set federal standards for automotive cybersecurity.

On July 21, senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act (SPY Car Act), which will direct both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to set industrywide benchmarks to protect driver safety and privacy.

The legislation couldn’t come at a better time, as two vehicle security experts in Missouri recently took control of a Jeep Cherokee as part of a showcase experiment. By remotely infiltrating the Cherokee’s cellular connection, tech gurus Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek were able to operate the car’s infotainment head unit, wipers, digital gauge cluster, and door locks as it drove down the highway, but their simulated attack didn’t stop there. With a few key strokes, they were able to commandeer vital functions like the brakes, transmission, and engine, leaving the driver helpless as it rolled to a stop.

“Drivers shouldn’t have to choose between being connected and being protected,” Markey said. “We need clear rules of the road that protect cars from hackers and American families from data trackers. This legislation will set minimum standards and transparency rules to protect the data, security, and privacy of drivers in the modern age of increasingly connected vehicles.”

There are obvious privacy concerns as well, as in-car app purchases can be linked to credit card information and invaluable personal data.

“Rushing to roll out the next big thing, automakers have left cars unlocked to hackers and data-trackers,” Blumenthal said. “This common-sense legislation protects the public against cybercriminals who exploit exciting advances in technology like self-driving and wireless-connected cars. Federal law must provide minimum standards and safeguards that keep hackers out of drivers’ private data lanes.”

To facilitate the new standards, the SPY Car Act plans to establish a rating system — called a cyber dashboard — to educate motorists about how well certain vehicles are protected, and whether or not they meet or exceed the minimum standards.

If you’d like to view a copy of the SPY Car Act, you can do so right here.

Mobile

The Cat S48c is the phone designed for construction workers (or the clumsy)

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.
Computing

Protect your expensive new laptop with the best Macbook cases

If you recently picked up a new MacBook, you’ll want something to protect its gorgeous exterior. Here, we've gathered the best MacBook cases and covers, whether you're looking for style or protection.
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Mobile

Biometric phone unlocks can’t be forced by feds, says U.S. judge

Fingerprint and face unlocks used to not be protected by the Fifth Amendment, but that may soon change. A judge in California has ruled biometric unlocking methods of all kinds are protected in the same way as passcodes.
Cars

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.
Cars

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.
Cars

Michigan OKs digital license plates with Rplate’s connected car platform

The state of Michigan approved the use of digital license plates on motor vehicles registered in the state. Reviver Auto, the manufacturer of the Rplate connected car platform, worked with Michigan's Department of State to pass the bill.
Cars

This Chevy Silverado pickup truck is made from more than 300,000 Lego bricks

To promote The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Lego and Chevrolet teamed up on a life-size replica of the automaker's Silverado pickup truck made from more than 300,000 plastic bricks.
Cars

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…
Outdoors

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.
Cars

Someone just paid supercar money for the very first 2020 Toyota Supra

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.