As computers inside vehicles become more and more developed, their potential for becoming the targets of hackers is also increasing. The problem could soon be affecting the streets themselves, as streets will soon be connected to the internet as well.
Networks known as V2I, or “vehicle-to-infrastructure”, will be connecting streets to the internet in the near future. While this will provide major benefits in transportation and safety, it will also make streets open to possible attacks from hackers.
Obviously, serious protections will be put into place in order to prevent this from occurring, but it’s always a possibility.
Experts have said that making sure that V2I networks are secure is the greatest challenge of this upcoming technology. In fact, more than half of the leading experts in the industry do not believe that making secure V2I networks is even possible.
The United States Department of Transportation even admits that it does not yet have an answer to ensuring the security of these networks.
However, putting major security concerns aside, the possible technology here is quite incredible.
Vehicles will reportedly communicate wirelessly with traffic lights and offer reminders to drivers not to run red lights. Cars will be able to automatically detect road conditions to warn drivers of potential hazards. Traffic levels will be analyzed to inform drivers of the optimal driving speed to maximize efficiency and safety.
Of course, none of this will be possible unless network security is put into place.
The United States government is currently working with the transportation industry to develop the Security Credential Management System (SCMS). The project will work to ensure that road safety messages are coming from devices that are authorized.
Still, many experts are not confident in the development of the SCMS. It is also unclear whether the automotive industry or the government would run the system.
The vehicles of the auto industry would contain the technology to allow for such communication, so it makes sense that the car companies should be in control. However, the streets are owned by the government, so the Transportation Department will argue that it should run the system.
Meanwhile, maintaining the privacy of V2I networks will be extremely important. It is likely that data will only be provided to academic institutions, government agencies and private companies for purposes exclusively relating to research. But making sure that this actually happens is another story.
Additionally, the data is unlikely to identify any specific information about the driver or the vehicle identification numbers and license plates of their vehicles.
If and when such a V2I network debuts in the United States, America will not be the first country to operate such a system. Japan already has and uses such technology on its roads. The Japanese have not claimed to have any issues using the technology.
In the United States, the Department of Transportation plans to spend up to $100 million over the next five years to deploy V2I technology. The Department hopes to have 20% of all intersections in the United States feature V2I technology by 2025. By 2040, the goal is to have the network at 80% of all intersections.