Week 51: Who’s Driving To DAC?

Send me your questions for the Wednesday general session cybersecurity discussion.

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It’s come to the point where I’m counting the days to DAC – especially nerve wracking considering how much I still have to do to get ready. Just this morning I spoke with Jeff Massimilla and Craig Smith about their Wednesday morning keynote dialogue on connected cars. Helping pull together #52DAC, which includes loads of excellent content on automotive systems, has driven home (sorry) how today’s cars truly are computer platforms on wheels. This generally is great news for us as consumers. When we’re behind the wheel we have access to an expanding array of technologies for keeping us safe, getting us where we need to go and entertaining us along the way.

However, our increased desire for vehicles that are as IoT-friendly as our mobile devices is putting pressure on OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. We want Internet connections, navigation, driver assistance, Bluetooth connectivity, and if possible, software updates every few weeks to bring us the constant improvements (or not) we are used to from our phones and tablets. And this appetite for new features is increasing the vulnerability of platforms that are safety-critical in ways that our mobile devices likely never will be.

Do you have burning questions you want to ask either Jeff or Craig about cybersecurity? Here’s mine: I want to know if there is extra protection for the safety-critical functions in my car. Are they behind a firewall that can’t be accessed through WiFi or can they indeed be hacked? When I think about all the network-enabled functions available on the dashboard of my BMW X1, I at least occasionally wonder about vulnerability to a virus like Heartbleed that would allow theft of my data. When Heartbleed was disclosed authorities believed that nearly half a million secure web servers were vulnerable to the attack. Could something like this happen to our vehicles? Do you hesitate to connect your phone via Bluetooth to your rental car? Well, I do because I don’t know what happens to my phone data once I return the car.

John McElroy, host of “Autoline Daily” and the only journalist who will be on DAC’s main stage this year, will host the Wednesday session. John has decades of experience covering the auto industry and is sure to ask Jeff and Craig tough questions while skipping the F.U.D. Still, the conversation will be livelier if you ask some of your own. There are two ways you can contribute questions: use the DAC mobile app at the event or send me an email.

Speaking of contributing, in my week 47 post I offered to donate one dollar for Nepal earthquake relief for every Designer Track registration through early May. Even with an extension I didn’t get enough to warrant a reasonable donation. So I added “I love DAC” registrants into the calculation and donated $250.00 to Mercy Corps in honor of DAC designers. Maybe some of you can make it up to me by upgrading from “I Love DAC” to a Designer Track registration, which gives you access to great content for under $100.00.

Only one more blog to go. I will see you at DAC!

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