'Autonomous Vehicles Provide an Avenue for Terrorism,' Congress Is Told

By Susan Jones | February 15, 2017 | 11:48am EST
A fleet of Google self-driving cars. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(CNSNews.com) - As the nation speeds toward development of fully self-driving vehicles, here's a speed bump to consider: Not only is hacking a "real threat," but "autonomous vehicles provide an avenue for terrorism as well," Congress was told on Tuesday.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) asked RAND Senior Information Scientist Nidhi Kalra, "How real is the threat of vehicle hacking" when it comes to autonomous vehicles.

It is a very real threat. There -- transportation is one of the areas that receives a lot of attention from hacking because it is -- you know it's a way to disrupt our transportation system. So there's a great concern there. And cyber security is not something that can sort of be shrink wrapped on top of the vehicle because there's so many parts that contribute to the ultimate vehicle that it has to be baked in from the ground up.

And it's not only hacking for fun and profit, but autonomous vehicles provide an avenue for terrorism as well because there's a way to use these vehicles to -- you know -- the threat is no longer sort of suicide bombers and -- that blow themselves up, but now we have vehicles that can drive around. So, I don't want to overstate the risk at this time, but we need to think very broadly about cyber security, not only as a hacking opportunity but also as a terrorism opportunity.

Although hacking concerns were discussed at the hearing, no one else mentioned terrorism.

The hearing was conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection.

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