BMW makes its cars less vulnerable to hackers

The fact that vehicle internet connectivity is widespread in today's luxury car market can sometimes lead to security problems. This could have been an issue for millions of BMW vehicles recently if German efficiency had not triumphed once again.

BMW recently made an announcement that it was updating security measures on its cars featuring the SIM-based ConnectedDrive module. The update was sent out over the air; therefore, it could be accessed quickly. The software in question allows BMW owners to unlock their vehicles remotely and a problem was revealed in the system after German automobile club ADAC found a glitch that meant there was a possibility that third parties could unlock BMWs by hacking into the system.

The company's reaction was commendably rapid. It released a statement saying that this was not a defect in hardware and did not affect any driving-related functionality. The updated system now has HTTPS encryption, which is downloaded automatically as soon as a vehicle module accesses the system.

There is no hard evidence that the problem has been exploited, even though it was present in around 2.2 million BMW vehicles. The theory behind the scam involved hackers creating a fake mobile network to fool the car into opening its doors.

The lesson to be learnt, not only for BMW but also for other car makers, is that new technology can create new problems. In this case the problem revealed how efficient BMW is at resolving hacking issues; however, perhaps this should have been taken into consideration before the software went live.