Car owners could face more danger from hackers if a draft bill (pdf) by the House Energy and Commerce Committee (HECC) becomes law. The law would make independent oversight of the electronic safety of motor vehicles a crime subjecting well intentioned security researchers to a $ 100,000 fine per instance. Today’s cars have 200 – 400 microcontrollers and microprocessors in them making the access of each an individual offense subject to fines that could add up to millions.
The security flaws of the Jeep Grand Cherokee were exposed this summer by security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek who were able to shut down the vehicle during operation by cracking the Wi-Fi password. The risks of huge fines would stop researchers from exposing critical motor vehicle vulnerabilities but it would not stop hackers with malicious intentions from invading vehicle control systems.