Is the Android Operating System Safe for Use in Automobiles?

According to an article written by Neal E. Boudette, Daisuke Wakabayashi, titled Google, Apple Forge Auto Ties, Google and Audi will announce a joint effort at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in early January, 2014. This effort will include installing smart devices powered by the Android O/S in automobiles.

Interested parties need to look closely into two broad areas of concern about this notion:

  1. What’s the content, and how will users handle communication? The information exchanged over person to person conversations, regardless of whether they transpire over cellular telephone calls, text messaging, emails, etc, can be a powerful threat to mobile safety. So any plans to add an extensive list of other ways for people to communicate while they are mobile will be (and, I might add, should be) closely scrutinized by regulatory bodies charged with ensuring public safety. Any announcement of new features must include some details about methods of controlling and limiting the content of these conversations, as well as how the conversations will transpire
  2. Why is the planned Android O/S different? and Why should we have confidence in its security? In its Security Threat Report 2013, Sophos, Inc. identified the Android O/S as “Today’s biggest target” for malicious software. It doesn’t take much to conceptualize the great danger represented by an automobile traveling at speed. So, if Android is to be seriously considered for an important role as an O/S for smart cars, there better be a lot of detail of new security features in the announcement. If these details are not provided, the notion is not likely to proceed much further than merely a method to build hype.

Both of these areas of concern contribute to a perception of a “smart car” as a potentially deadly device. The Journal’s article had little to say about security. This oversight should be corrected. The public should be informed of the dangers of “smart cars” if the discussion is to be fair and balanced.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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