In-car wireless raises security, safety issues

About 37 percent of 200 auto industry executives recently surveyed by KPMG said that in-car Wi-Fi will become a common feature in future car models-and that infotainment features in the cars will become almost as important to car buyers as safety features.

In-vehicle wireless has long been seen as a burgeoning market opportunity, and the ability for smartphones and tablet PCs to channel video on the go has only stepped up the likelihood the in-vehicle Wi-Fi will become common.

At the same time, however, there have been reports from researchers suggesting the connectivity such as Wi-Fi and 3G also makes cars more susceptible to theft or other kinds of security attacks. These technologies could be used to disable alarm systems or entire vehicles, or could be used to spy on phone conversations and Internet activity.

Aside from all this, the rising importance of in-vehicle infotainment is a scary notion. Is it really going to be almost as important as safety? Society is just coming to grips with the dangers of talking on a mobile phone or texting while driving. The Wi-Fi driven in-car infotainment systems would not be for drivers, of course, but when you can pass a smartphone or tablet around in a car to look at a YouTube clip, there may be a fine line between entertainment and danger.

For more:
- see this BBC report on the survey
- read this LA Times story on security fears

Related articles:
Embedded Wi-Fi in cars and elsewhere is big business
Google was accused of using Street View Cars to spy