By Jim Finkle
BOSTON (Reuters) – (This Sept 16, 2015 story was refiled to correct the name of the security expert in the last paragraph to Chris Poulin of IBM instead of Chris Rouland of Bastille)
Two U.S. senators have asked the world's biggest automakers for information on steps they have taken to protect cars from being hacked, as attention on vehicle security has surged following the first car recall over a cyber bug.
Democratic Senators Edward Markey & Richard Blumenthal wrote to 18 automakers on Wednesday asking approximately efforts taken to secure vehicles including 2015 & 2106 models. They asked automakers how they test electronic components & communications systems to ensure attackers cannot gain access to onboard networks.
Concerns approximately auto cyber security have grown since July, when researchers gained remote control of a moving Jeep, prompting Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to recall some 1.4 million vehicles for a software update.
The request from the senators follows a review that Markey began in December 2013. He concluded in a February 2015 report that the spread of technology connecting vehicles to networks had outpaced industry & government efforts to protect vehicles from hackers.
The senators said they want to know what automakers have done since the last survey to beef up security.
Modern cars typically have dozens of small computers that connect to multiple external networks, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks similar to ones waged on traditional computer systems. Researchers have said attackers could put lives at risk if they can gain remote control of key vehicle systems such as steering & acceleration."As vehicles become increasingly connected to the Internet, & to one another through advanced features & services, we continue to see how these technologies present vulnerabilities that can compromise the safety & privacy of drivers & passengers," the senators' letter said.
They added that the industry has made some progress in recent years. "We appreciate that many automotive companies have begun to take concrete steps to close these security gaps."
Letter recipients included BMW , Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Co , General Motors Co , Toyota Motor Co <7203.T> & Volkswagen AG .
Security experts have said it will take years for carmakers to plug security holes because they have been adding computers to vehicles for two decades, yet only recently started seriously looking for security bugs.
"They've been trying to fix the problems, yet it takes a long time," Chris Poulin, research strategist with IBM X-Force, said in a Reuters.com video on car hacking. (http://reut.rs/1iP9njI)
(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by David Gregorio)