Car manufacturers are creating more sophisticated electronic systems for their models every year.  Consumers benefit from advances such as GPS.  Yet these advances are also raising new concerns about whether some of the systems could be hacked or create privacy risks.  Jeffrey Roman wrote an excellent article about these emerging issues, the potential risks and the steps by the industry to address these risks; he notes that the auto industry has established a center “… to collect and share information about cyber-related threats and vulnerabilities in motor vehicle electronics ….” (www.databreachtoday.com; “Ramping Up Automobile Cybersecurity”; February 17).

What would be a possible privacy and security risk? Mr. Roman reports on research results from Chris Valasek, the Director of vehicle security research at IOActive, a computer security services firm.  Mr. Valasek found, for example, that it might be possible for a criminal to access a car’s systems and get the consumer’s GPS coordinates or even the consumer’s username and password for the in-car applications.

Mr. Roman notes that Senator Edward Markey and Senator Richard Blumenthal are going to be introducing legislation requiring  the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to develop federal standards that would to improve the security of cars as well as protecting drivers’ privacy.  Their legislative goal is making drivers’ information safe in this rapidly emerging technology.

Consumers will benefit from having pro-active industry and legislative attention focused on these types of potential issues — to help get ahead of the risks becoming actual problems.