Compromising Self-Driving Vehicles

The difficult part about being a technophile and an anarchist is that the State often highjacks new technologies to further its own power. These highjackings are always done under the auspices of safety and the groundwork is already being laid for the State to get its fingers into self-driving vehicles:

It is time to start thinking about the rules of the new road. Otherwise, we may end up with some analog to today’s chaos in cyberspace, which arose from decisions in the 1980s about how personal computers and the Internet would work.

One of the biggest issues will be the rules under which public infrastructures and public safety officers may be empowered to override how autonomous vehicles are controlled.

When should law enforcers and safety officers be empowered to override another person’s self-driving vehicle? Never. Why? Setting aside the obvious abuses such empowerment would lead to we have the issue of security, which the article alludes to towards the end:

Last, but by no means least, is whether such override systems could possibly be made hack-proof. A system to allow authorized people to control someone else’s car is also a system with a built-in mechanism by which unauthorized people — aka hackers — can do the same.

Even if hackers are kept out, if every police officer is equipped to override AV systems, the number of authorized users is already in the hundreds of thousands — or more if override authority is extended to members of the National Guard, military police, fire/EMS units, and bus drivers.

No system can be “hacker-proof,” especially when that system has hundreds of thousands of authorized users. Each system is only as strong as its weakest user. It only takes one careless authorized user to leak their key for the entire world to have a means to gaining access to everything locked by that key.

In order to implement a system in self-driving cars that would allow law enforcers and safety officers to override them there would need to be a remote access option that allowed anybody employed by a police department, fire department, or hospital to log into the vehicle. Every vehicle would either have to be loaded with every law enforcer’s and safety officer’s credentials or, more likely, rely on a single master key. In the case of the former it would only take one careless law enforcer or safety officer posting their credentials somewhere an unauthorized party could access them, including the compromised network of a hospital, for every self-driving car to be compromised. In the case of the latter the only thing that would be required to compromise every self-driving car is the master key being leaked. Either way, the integrity of the system would be dependent on hundreds of thousands of people maintaining perfect security, which is an impossible goal.

If self-driving cars are setup to allow law enforcers and safety officers to override them then they will become useless due to being constantly compromised by malicious actors.

One thought on “Compromising Self-Driving Vehicles”

  1. And since employees of the State often behave in criminal ways, it’s not even necessary for login credentials to leak out. I’ll stay well clear of any driverless vehicles that can be controlled from outside the car.

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