The modern accoutrements that entice car buyers, such as electronic starters, keyless entry systems and in-car WiFi systems are almost too good to pass up; even on entry level vehicles. However, there is a hidden danger that many people may not even be aware of.

In fact, many people are concerned that infotainment systems are prone to promote distracted driving, which could lead to horrific accidents. But aside from distracted driving, the potential for a vehicle’s systems to be hacked should not be ignored. 

Essentially, the modern comforts we highlighted are based on tiny computers that send and receive information so that functions can be performed. These devices could be infiltrated, meaning that the computers that control keyless entry, lighting and some steering and braking functions (for those vehicles that have automatic braking and steering assist) could be compromised.

If these functions are hacked, a driver could lose control of them, or they could malfunction at inopportune times.

A Congressional report highlighted by the Associated Press indicated that some manufacturers were not aware of the potential for electronic functions to be compromised. In fact, some automakers had not incorporated any protections against unauthorized access to a car’s systems.

This could be critical if widespread hacking compromised vehicles and led to a recall. Automakers have a continuing duty to inform consumers of defects and to take reasonable steps to correct them. Should an automaker fail to do so, and a consumer is injured, the automaker could be held liable. 

It remains to be seen how automakers will incorporate protections to protect cars from future hacking attacks.