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Car Hacking: Are Amazon’s New Automotive Products Secure?

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, Amazon announced several new products and services related to vehicles, including:

Alexa integrations in cars: In addition to their Alexa integrations in vehicles from Toyota, Ford, Audi and BMW, Alexa will be integrated into Lamborghini’s Huracan Evo range, 100,000 electric Amazon delivery vans and Rivian’s electric R1S and R1T models. These integrations will be available later in 2020 along with integrations from Volkswagen and General Motors, previously announced in 2019.

International launch of Echo Auto: For users outside of the United States that want to integrate Alexa into their existing vehicles, Amazon is expanding Echo Auto, a collection of connected devices for cars with Alexa built-in. Companies like BOSS Audio, Nextbase, Kenwood, iOttie, and others are making new automotive accessories, beginning with an expansion to India on January 15th. Amazon will roll out Echo Auto in other countries later in 2020.

Making it easier for automakers to integrate Alexa: Amazon will continue to work with software developers for vehicle companies, simplifying the Alexa integration process to add voice navigation to future vehicles.

AWS services and integrations: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud computing platform, is working with Blackberry to make software for in-vehicle applications. AWS is also working with Unity Technologies, showcasing a cloud service called Unity Simulation that will “test, train and validate an autonomous perception system”. Finally, AWS has partnered with Cadallac and ZeroLight to introduce a new digital and personalized way of buying cars.

New Alexa car capabilities: Later this year, customers will be able to tell Alexa to pay for gas using Amazon Pay, powered by global fintech services provider Fiserv, at 11,500 Mobil and Exxon gas stations. Amazon is also bringing Fire TV to future BMW and Fiat Chrysler cars.

Amazon and Car Hacking

Amazon’s blog post, however, did not mention any security issues regarding car hacking, a concern for many drivers. Amazon has had numerous issues with privacy in the past, particularly with its voice assistant Alexa. The company admitted that their employees listen to customers speaking to Alexa in order to improve the voice assistant’s artificial intelligence capabilities.

There are also concerns about Amazon knowing customers’ locations through vehicles’ navigation systems, along with other data that can be shared with third parties like car insurance companies. Finally, with any WiFi-enabled device, there are inherent security issues, as the Internet of Things is a relatively new industry where the sophistication of the consumer is still generally limited. Additionally, many companies do not design connected devices with security in mind, which has led to breaches from companies like Wyze, NordVPN, Marriott and more.

Since the majority of Amazon’s automotive products and services announced at CES 2020 have not yet been released, there’s very little information on their security components. Fortunately, Amazon and its affiliated companies have begun to focus more on privacy, adding “privacy zones” to the Ring Peephole Cam in order to exclude certain areas as well as adding a built-in shutter on many of the company’s hardware offerings like the Amazon Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 smart displays. Ring has also added two-factor authentication to its products and has given users the ability to opt out of video requests from the police, according to a recent press release. When asked about the new automotive products and services’ security features, an Amazon spokesperson told SensorsTechForum the following:

Security and privacy are foundational to everything we do, including Alexa Auto. We’ve built security into these products from day one, and we always look to give customers more control over the experience. You can log into the Alexa app at any point and view and delete voice recordings, whether they happened in the car or on an Amazon Echo at home.”

About the Author: Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. Currently, Aliza is Senior Staff Writer at Security Baron.

SensorsTechForum Guest Authors

The opinions expressed in these guest posts are entirely those of the contributing author, and may not reflect those of SensorsTechForum.

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