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Automation drives new cyber risks

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Increasing attention is being paid to the future issue of insuring driverless vehicles.

Observers point to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s

Vehicle Performance Guidance for

Automated Vehicles, issued in September, which outlines best practices for the safe design, development and testing of automated vehicles.

Its 15-point safety assessment cites approaches to guarding against vehicle hacking risks, along with outlining privacy considerations and protections for users.

“Most insurers are having those conversations” about insuring driverless cars, said Tim Francis, Hartford, Connecticut-based president and enterprise cyber lead at Travelers Cos. Inc.

Although the scenario could still be decades away, experts say that liability for accidents may largely shift from drivers to manufacturers and their suppliers once driverless cars come into wide use.

Mike Stankard, Detroit-based automotive practice leader for Aon Risk Solutions, said the potential risks created by driverless cars include:

• Direct hacking of the vehicle for someone intending to take over its control

• Hacking information being sent to the vehicle, such as in situations where four cars are at the different corners of an intersection, where there must be communication between the autonomous vehicles

• Hacking into vehicle updates being sent to the vehicle when the car may be sitting in the driver’s garage

• Hacking into private and personal information, including credit card data