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Networking Operating Systems Transportation IT

Within 6 Years, Most Vehicles Will Allow OTA Software Updates (computerworld.com) 199

Lucas123 writes: By 2022, using a thumb drive or taking your vehicle to the location you bought it for a software update will seem as strange as it would be for a smartphone or laptop today. By 2022, there will be 203 million vehicles on the road that can receive software over-the-air (SOTA) upgrades; among those vehicles, at least 22 million will also be able to get firmware upgrades, according to a new report by ABI Research. Today, there are about 253 million cars and trucks on the road, according to IHS Automotive. The main reasons automakers are moving quickly to enable OTA upgrades: recall costs, autonomous driving and security risks based on software complexities, according to Susan Beardslee, a senior analyst at ABI Research. "It is a welcome transformation, as OTA is the only way to accomplish secure management of all of a connected car's software in a seamless, comprehensive, and fully integrated manner," Beardslee said.
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Within 6 Years, Most Vehicles Will Allow OTA Software Updates

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  • So defective cars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2016 @03:34AM (#51713419)

    So you're telling me you'll be selling defective cars that need repaired so often their need OTA updates? And not just a regular maintenance at the dealership?

    And where are the regulatory authorities then? Are they sitting on their asses while you sell us these defective cars?

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @05:48AM (#51713631)

      Indeed. When I see this,

      "It is a welcome transformation, as OTA is the only way to accomplish secure management of all of a connected car's software in a seamless, comprehensive, and fully integrated manner," Beardslee said.

      my first thought is that maybe cars being so connected before we have the robustness to go with it isn't such a great idea.

      • I"m thinking even more drastically.....I want to have a car that has "phone home" or any type of connectivity to outside parties FULLY DISABLED....but that seems to be getting tough to find.

        I was toying with the idea of getting a Dodge Hellcat Challenger. But it comes with what they call UConnect installed...and so far, I can find no option to disable the mechanism it uses (cell phone basically) to communicate with Dodge or whomever.

        This bothers me. I don't want my car to be spewing out God knows what in

        • I'm staring to think more and more about buying instead, and older late 70's muscle car..spending the cash to restore it, modernize the suspension, etc......and have a fun gas burner that way that is simpler, and much less connected.

          A cool idea, but you give up a lot of safety doing that. As much as I agree with you about not wanting my car talking to outside agencies without my permission, driving an older car seriously compromises your safety.

          I guess I'm hoping that people will figure out which wire to pull to disable the cellular connection so I can disable that and still have all the modern safety and convenience without my car ratting me out to the powers that be.

          • by PPH ( 736903 )

            driving an older car seriously compromises your safety.

            But it's my safety. I'll compromise it if I want. If I'm not permitted to, I'll just ride my motorcycle.

            • Yeah, I didn't mean to say you shouldn't be allowed to do it... just saying probably not a very good tradeoff if you're just worried about software safety issues. As bad as we all know software bugs can be, I seriously doubt we'll see bugs that take safety levels back to those of the 1970s (when we didn't even have seatbelts in lots of the cars!).

              • by PPH ( 736903 )

                I seriously doubt we'll see bugs that take safety levels back to those of the 1970s

                Yes we will. Because when the ABS, stability control, automatic braking fails and drivers have come to depend on it, thing will get ugly fast.

            • Oh, and I meant to respond to the motorcycle part... not sure if that was trolling or not on your part! But as a motorcyclist, I'd like to point out the obvious that those of us who ride motorcycles just.... must not care that much about safety otherwise we would never ride them! (but they sure are fun!)

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I am understanding that you can actually (they're pretty sure) just get rid of the OEM radio (whole infotainment?) and that kills it by itself. I don't know if the Challenger comes with steering wheel controls but you'd have to go after-market with those too, which is possible. Supposedly... That's the only way to kill it AND supposedly it works. I know some of the Dodge Ram guys were working on it, specifically going for antenna modifications, but I think that even when they applied filters that they still

          • I am understanding that you can actually (they're pretty sure) just get rid of the OEM radio (whole infotainment?) and that kills it by itself. I don't know if the Challenger comes with steering wheel controls but you'd have to go after-market with those too, which is possible. Supposedly... That's the only way to kill it AND supposedly it works. I know some of the Dodge Ram guys were working on it, specifically going for antenna modifications, but I think that even when they applied filters that they still

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              I owned a Viper quite a few years ago but then my kids (that's how long ago this was) decided to move in with me 'cause I had the cooler toys. *sighs* So, there went the Viper. The car I have with me is a BMW 6 series, it's actually a nice intonation. It's nearly ~450 horses and that's enough for my daily driver - I've alternatives, too many alternatives. I do not have another Viper though - I do miss mine. I'd buy the same exact one back if I could find it and was for sale.

              I'll keep my eyes out for one of

      • "my first thought is that maybe cars being so connected before we have the robustness to go with it isn't such a great idea."

        Not disagreeing, but I'd omit the 'before we have ...' part. It'll take a decade or three, but I expect after a lot of (unnecessary) pain, it will become obvious that arbitrary OTA updates for any device are a bad idea. Upside benefits are real, but minimal. Downside risks are also real and potentially serious.

        That's especially true for cars. Cars are mobile. And Expensive. How

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @06:30AM (#51713715) Homepage

      It's the legal bodies that will like this most since now they can cripple our cars remotely.

      • Or worse, paired with the inevitable autonomous driving cars, if you're wanted for questioning, or late to court, your doors and windows will suddenly lock, and you'll find your car driving you directly to the nearest LEO facility, with you trapped inside to be delivered.
        The hacking potential is also very scary. In the history of bad ideas, this one ranks pretty high.
    • So you're telling me you'll be selling defective cars that need repaired so often their need OTA updates?

      No. This is so when one of these new-fangled cars does something bad or wrong, the vendor can secretly download a back-dated patch before authorities can investigate to make it look like the driver was to blame and not the car. /tinfoil-hat

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      I'm guessing that the less honest manufacturers will start pushing out engine parameters to de-tune older model cars. So you bought that high performance sports sedan and now it's gutless? Time to trade it in on a new model.

    • I can't help but think there are many, many cars on the road that haven't seen a dealership in a long time. No maintenance, self-maintenance, non-dealer maintenance. Eventually, we will get to the point where a significant amount of cars that need software updates will be in that pool.
    • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

      I'm concerned that this will turn out like software updates today: more alpha-quality releases with the world as your test bed, and a promise to fix things over time.

      That sucks a little with games and apps. That could kill with automobiles.

  • better (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @03:35AM (#51713421) Journal
    Better buy a car before then.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2016 @03:44AM (#51713443)

    BY DEFINITION the car can DRIVE ITSELF to the dealership.

    It can do this at night, when I am sleeping.

    It will wait in line with the other cars, the techs will plug in their devices, and they will fix the car.

    The car will then DRIVE ITSELF home, park itself in the driveway, and finish its recharge cycle.

    Why in the world would anybody need OTA?

  • by jmd ( 14060 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @03:49AM (#51713453)

    Once the government has a suspected terrorist in their sights, they can have the auto manufacturer perform an OTA software upgrade to the suspected terrorists car then when turned on will lock the doors, roll up the windows and autonomously suspected terrorist to the nearest police station.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @04:17AM (#51713481) Homepage

      It's only one time for that one particular car and they promise to delete the code afterwards.

    • However, not until after the terrorists have performed an OTA update, and caused all the cars to drive through the gates to the White House, Pentagon, Trump Tower, etc
    • By 2022, there will be 203 million vehicles on the road that can receive spyware over-the-air (SOTA) upgrades.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Early computers could actually catch fire under certain circumstances. Printers were the worst, and video monitors. Fortunately back then there wasn't much malware to abuse these weaknesses.

        Seems like we are going back in time, except that now malware is common and script kiddies on 4chan take great delight in remotely setting cars on fire or making the engine destroy itself. The first manufacturer to fall victim to this will be looking at a *lot* of warranty claims.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Or vice versa.

    • Common... that would take far too long. You need to issue the NSL right away, and compel the backdoor RAT to be deployed immediately. That way as soon as you identify a dissonant... uh, "terrorist", you can immediately take any and all actions through the vehicle's systems to help protect the children. Who knows, the terrorist might be in his car, driving by a school, and you had to accelerate it into that tree to protect the kids. It's national security, so you can't do anything about it.

    • Let's not be Luddites.

      There is a simple solution and it's the same one we use on every other computer that gets updates. Configure the system to notify you updates are pending and describe what those updates do. That's what Tesla does now. The car's owner can still be in control of their car while reaping the benefits of OTA updates. Any new problems that arise can be addressed and are minor compared to the advantages brought by OTA updates. Cars have had computers and bugs for more than 20 years and m

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        The reality is that your car has been running on software for the past 20 to 30 years. Most of this software has never been patched. Unless you believe that all software is perfect when it is first installed, you need a mechanism for updates. All of my other electronic devices have the option for regular updates to fix bugs and add features... why not cars?
        Tesla has a full time cell data modem plus WiFi. This provides streaming music, navigation, and software updates. It also sends back diagnostic informati

  • oblig. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    what could possibly go wrong?

    ota update mechanisms will be hacked.

    ota updates of car software will be abused by certain agencies.. think feds, local enforcement agencies, etc.

    ota updates puts a cellular modem in every car, also will be abused by above for tracking.

    these modems will each use a phone number. our phone number pool (nanp) is finite-sized, and depleting fast enough the way it is.

  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @04:05AM (#51713471)

    So the FBI will demand a kill switch. After all, if someone is running from cops we know they are guilty of something, because running from cops is illegal. If they can demand your phone have a backdoor, your car is obviously MUCH more important- a car can commit way more crimes than a phone!

    The fact that these will be hackable is also just so amazing.

    What a terrible fucking idea. I hope that people don't fall for this shit, but I'm afraid that they will.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They already demand Onstar turn on the microphones when they want to spy on the passengers of a car.
      http://www.tonyrogers.com/news/onstar.htm

      The head of Google, Eric Schmidt, uses an iPhone not an Android phone, if you've never noticed, Google Play Services can do everything OnStar can do and far more. It can video, turn on the mic, listen in on calls, send fake SMSs, read emails, etc. and if FBI has used warrants to require OnStar to spy on its customers, you can be sure they've done that many times with G

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Time to get a 1970s Mercedes diesel, 1980 VW diesel, or 1982 Audi diesel. You know, the kind with zero electronics of any kind in it, outside of the radio.

      Once my 1983 Audi 5000TD was started, the only reason it needed an alternator or battery at all to keep running as long as the fuel held out was to keep the fuel cutoff solenoid energized and open. You could have done that function with a single jumper and some D cells. EMP? Ha! In a nuclear war it would have remained in perfect running condition when onl

      • Time to get a 1970s Mercedes diesel, 1980 VW diesel, or 1982 Audi diesel. You know, the kind with zero electronics of any kind in it, outside of the radio.

        Want to buy my 1982 Mercedes 300SD? Mercedes actually kept to mechanically regulated diesels in the S-Class all the way until 1991, when they introduced the "Starship Enterprise" W140 300SD with an electronically-regulated engine. But 1980-1985 models have the legendary OM617.951 5-cylinder turbo diesel, which is broadly considered to be not only one of the most reliable engines Mercedes ever made, but one of the most reliable engines of all time.

        the only reason it needed an alternator or battery at all to keep running as long as the fuel held out was to keep the fuel cutoff solenoid energized and open.

        Yeah, that's amateur hour. The Mercedes uses a vacuum switch.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Want to buy my 1982 Mercedes 300SD?

          If you're serious, well... You know how to get my attention. I'd need pics, of course, and I can go from there. Given my schedule, I may have to have someone else retrieve it - probably a transport company. I've read enough of your posts to know what you've done for work on it - I'm presuming that you've done it well. I have a moderate interest, with the right car and price then I might be enticed. I've turned a couple of similar models down but I probably should own one, at least for a while. Bare minimum,

    • The fact that these will be hackable is also just so amazing.

      This doesn't actually worry me.
      If I'm being targeted I'm likely screwed one way or another.
      If I'm not being targeted then it would make no sense to indiscriminately mess with cars. You're not going to make much money attacking cars directly when instead targets exist that have personal / banking information or high bandwidth which can be used to stage further attacks.

      • When I was a kid, the teenage hoodlum who lived next door shot out all the back windows of cars on the street. But that takes nerve, risks being caught, and only appeals to the more active violent type. Now, the maladjusted nerdy kid next door will be able to hack your car for a laugh from the comfort of his bedroom.

        • And as I drive around I'm always at risk of having a brick thrown through my window for the lulz (something that happens all too frequently apparently). The end result is that all the bridges and overpasses in my city have cages around the pedestrian section. This hasn't changed anything though, except for the view from the bridge and the amount of money left in the budget for road maintenance.

          I can't bubble wrap myself against idiots, but the point is that every time technology security is talked about it

      • I tend to agree. Car recalls are nothing new. I can only imagine the reaction here if Apple announced that you'd have to take your iPhone back to the Apple Store for OS upgrades or security patches.

        Cars have a lot more computer than in the past. It makes them more efficient and it makes them safer. The entertainment system is massively more complex than an old fashioned tape deck, and that lets us have a more enjoyable drive. With all that code, there are going to be things that can be improved or which nee

        • I would rather you were driving than being entertained in the car. Besides, books, kindles, ipads etc can keep your passengers entertained with out compromising the security of the automobile. Furthermore, any software controlling the driving functions of a few thousand pounds of moving metal and plastic had better tested far better than today's Windows or IOS. This is mission critical stuff, like if it fails people die. That can't be held to the same "not guaranteed to even work" level to which most PC

      • If I'm not being targeted then it would make no sense to indiscriminately mess with cars. You're not going to make much money attacking cars directly when instead targets exist that have personal / banking information or high bandwidth which can be used to stage further attacks.

        Uh, ransom the manufacturers? I'll kill one of your customers per day every day until you fork over 10 million?

        • OTA update done and patched. Next question? The problem with randsomware is that it needs to fly under the radar to be successful. Encrypting a few files and releasing them in return for a few hundred or thousand of dollars is the standard modus operandi. Randsomware for millions in exchange for not committing murder is the working of a truly sick mind, not your mass market hacker, which will also limit the number of such attacks and therefore the risk to the general public.

    • Phones are probably used for distribution and creation of paedofilia content. Cars do not have memory like a phone does - OK, depend on what you do. So having a back door on the phones is more important. Imagine all of the things that can be traced back in time. All of the inmoral things that could be uncovered, including sexting that can be categorized as paedofilia even if that happened years ago.
      Or is that you are not thinking of the children?
  • Nice future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Thursday March 17, 2016 @04:12AM (#51713477)

    Within 7 years then, the FBI will want General Motors to write a special update for them to get at some terrorist's encrypted car camera pictures and a couple of months later Russian teen hackers will crash our cars.

    • Hardly. The occasional script kiddy may find it funny, but for the most part hackers aren't that. They are after things they can sell or extort. Unless you have your mobile phone banking app in your car I imagine you will be an unlikely target for hackers.

      • Re:Nice future (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Casualposter ( 572489 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @08:53AM (#51714219) Journal

        Send you payment information to XXX.XXX.XXX or the car won't start.

        Hi! Nice to see your kids driving now. Boy, wouldn't it be horrible if the steering went out on the free way? Act NOW to prevent this tragedy by sending a secure payment to us.

        Good morning Police Mayor! Please ensure that proper payment to us is made or all the cars in your city will stop working correctly.

        Just a few things that can be done with complete connected cars and their automatic updates.

        • Send you payment information to XXX.XXX.XXX or the car won't start.

          This one I can get behind but ultimately is not that severe.

          Hi! Nice to see your kids driving now. Boy, wouldn't it be horrible if the steering went out on the free way? Act NOW to prevent this tragedy by sending a secure payment to us.

          Good morning Police Mayor! Please ensure that proper payment to us is made or all the cars in your city will stop working correctly.

          Just a few things that can be done with complete connected cars and their automatic updates.

          These two on the other hand are the plots of bad action movies staring Bruce Willis, not reality. Hackers survive on turning their activities into a continuously profitable business. This becomes very different when you threaten murder on a continuous basis or shutdown a city. Hackers thrive on small fry not acts of war, and quite frankly given the state of our infrastructure if its acts of war they want they could already quite easily achieve that

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          The door refused to open. It said, âoeFive cents, please.â

          He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. âoeIâ(TM)ll pay you tomorrow,â he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. âoeWhat I pay you,â he informed it, âoeis in the nature of a gratuity; I donâ(TM)t have to pay you.â

          âoeI think otherwise,â the door said. âoeLook in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.â

          In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.

          âoeYou discover Iâ(TM)m right,â the door said. It sounded smug.

          From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his aptâ(TM)s money-gulping door.

          âoeIâ(TM)ll sue you,â the door said as the first screw fell out.

          Joe Chip said, âoeIâ(TM)ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.â

  • Whilst I am a strong fan of self driving cars, this is nuts. Next you'll tell me that the software on ICBMs can be changed over the air...
  • by Laxator2 ( 973549 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @05:59AM (#51713653)

    How will be possible to have car chases in this case ?
    The cops will simply shut down the car remotely.
    All the movie scripts will have to be modified to exclude car chases.

    Then again, spying on people while driving is a source of additional income for the car makers, so the possibility of buying a car without this "feature" will be removed from customers.

    • Rethink?

      See "Demolition Man".

    • by pla ( 258480 )
      How will be possible to have car chases in this case?

      Hollywood already has two "new" tropes for this - Either every criminal drives classic hot-rods, or evil, evil "modders" who dare to think they own their cars exist as a distinct criminal segment right up there with slavers and pedos. Or both, of course.
  • ...OTA is the only way to accomplish secure centralized remote control over the car you are renting from the manufacturer in a seamless, comprehensive, and fully integrated manner.

    FTFY, Mr. Beardslee!

    In related news, the automotive sector officially announces that it has joined smartphone manufacturers, cellular service providers, appliance manufacturers, and producers of desktop operating systems and software, in the last push for complete corporate hegemony. Industry representatives say that very soon now, full-time monitoring and control of the population will be realized, and both true individual ownership, and personal autonomy, will be things of the past.

    • NOPE! You will own the car. The software you will license and the data generated from your use of the software will be used to monitor your behavior and adjust your costs accordingly. Data on operations and locations of the vehicle will be shared with business partners to ensure that the car is operated in agreement with the terms and conditions of the license, insurance policies, and law enforcement. Should you breech the license agreement at any time, you can and will be stranded with out the use of t

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @06:29AM (#51713703) Homepage

    First just give me a USB slot so I can download the update and apply it myself OUT OF BAND. no I will not pay a monthly fee for my car to have internet access, they can go fuck themselves if they think I will be paying for that.

    The problem is Car software engineers really really suck at programming and usability. The Engine guys that got the math down for the engine, steering, and suspension systems? they are decent mathematicians.. But the drooling morons that write the rest......

    USB slot next to the ODB connector, let users do it themselves out of band.

    • First just give me a USB slot so I can download the update and apply it myself OUT OF BAND. no I will not pay a monthly fee for my car to have internet access, they can go fuck themselves if they think I will be paying for that.

      Companies like Qualcomm have been willing to provide this kind of service for over a decade now. Since it is low-traffic, it will be cheap enough that it won't cost anything to the end-user, and since it will probably be cheaper than doing the updates manually, it will probably save money to the manufacturers too. (As another example, see the Kindle, where books are downloaded automatically and free when you buy them).

  • Great, Between the FBI law enforcement hackers, the CIA hackers and the home grown hackers, we'll all be in crossfire between people looking lock cars down, people looking to have cars spy (cameras, microphones used for voice commands, etc) and people trying to protect themselves (or even us) from all these invasive "features" I'd rather ride a bicycle.Oh, crud..India just created a computer controlled bicycle didn't they. Can I even trust my footware anymore...
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @06:53AM (#51713771)
    they can send out that special update to any car in the vicinity of a government testing centre
  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @07:48AM (#51713913)
    Ctrl-Alt-Tree
  • by jimbrooking ( 1909170 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @08:20AM (#51714039)

    "OTA is the only way to accomplish secure management of all of a connected car's software in a seamless, comprehensive, and fully integrated manner,"

    I win Bullshit Bingo! More meaningless buzzwords per sentence than I've seen in a while.

    And clearly anyone who confuses "secure" and "OTA" doesn't understand either concept.

  • Updates will end after 1 year of the car comeing out so if there is a big fix needed it may be. Due to lack of update X your car will not be able to use auto drive mode any more to get auto drive mode back buy a new car.

  • ""It is a welcome transformation, as OTA is the only way to accomplish secure management of all of a connected car's software in a seamless, comprehensive, and fully integrated manner," Beardslee said."

    What he actually meant to say was, "OTA is the cheapest way to update software and if it goes wrong we can (a) blame the customer and (b) charge the customer to put it right.

  • Data roaming will they pay the data fee for a pushed update as to day with some system that 1GB update may cost you $10.24/MB = $10K

  • Boss: Why are you late for work?

    You: Ford bricked my car.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Unless you bought your car from Sony [slashdot.org]

  • I just hope they don't to the MS thing with forced reboots - wouldn't be good driving down the motorway at 120km/h and your car telling you that it will reboot itself in 10 minutes and not give a cancel option

    #annoying

  • They need to have a switch somewhere in the vehicle that completely disables the wireless transceiver, then. No way I want anyone having any chance of wirelessly hacking any vehicle I'm driving. I'll find and disconnect/short the antenna(s) myself if I have to.
  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @10:20AM (#51714745)

    What could go wrong? So your car gets an update in the middle of the night and when you go to leave in the morning the car won't start. If we've learned anything from Microsoft forcing updates out then there will things will go wrong in some cases. Of course cars are more uniform so there shouldn't be as many problems. However iPhones are standard too and sometimes there's a new iOS version you get a number of people with problems upgrading.

  • by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Thursday March 17, 2016 @10:30AM (#51714829)

    "...software updates in progress. Installing update 3 of 47..."

    Bosses of the world: Please prepare for the "Sorry I'm late. GM decided to roll out critical updates during my commute."

  • If they do it anything like in-car GPS systems, you'll have to pay $500 for each OTA update.

  • "Sorry boss, I'm not going to be able to make it in today. Yeah, the goddamn Hyundai bricked itself again..."

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