British computer security firm Oceanus is developing solutions to help protect a new wave of remote automobile radio technology from malicious attack.
The technology pioneered by the Formula One teams allows an engine to be monitored in real time and even remotely tuned via a radio connection.
The McLaren F1 sports car is currently the only car that comes complete with an on board modem allowing engine information to be sent back to McLaren headquarters and BMW have also hinted that they are working on similar technology.
Oceanus is developing public key encryption measures designed to prevent radio signals from being intercepted or mimicked by an unauthorised third party.
Experts at Oceanus believe that this technology may soon be available for many more commercial vehicles and argue that it is fundamentally important that security measures are incorporated in any design.
An Oceanus spokesman says, "Modem traffic can potentially be intercepted by unknown third parties, who may be able to manipulate transmitted data. Well-designed encryption measures can prevent this, but few firms are aware of potential risks involved with unencrypted data.
We believe that a substantial proportion of risk can be eliminated by security professionals evaluating and providing services in the design an implementation process.
If car manufacturers do not properly assess the risks, and involve security folk they will be increasing open to electronic attacks."
Oceanus is also currently researching ways to protect existing automobile technology such as remote central locking systems and alarms from attack .