Volkswagen sets up smart car security team

Troubled carmaker takes on the cybersecurity issues of connected cars

Cars are getting smarter - and that means there's more to hack. 

With such threats in mind, Volkswagen has teamed up with Israeli cybersecurity experts to lauch a car-focused security research firm, Cymotive Technologies. 

Volkswagen's head of electronic development, Dr Volkmar Tanneberer, said the move was a "long term investment" in securing vehicles and the ecosystem around them. 

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"The car and the internet are becoming increasingly integrated," he said in a statement. "To enable us to tackle the enormous challenges of the next decade, we need to expand our know-how in cybersecurity in order to systematically advance vehicle cybersecurity for our customers."

However, it is intriguing to see Volkswagen hire in its own researchers. Not only did its staff famously hack software in the company's own cars to show the wrong emissions information to avoid environmental controls, but the company also fought a two-year legal battle with security researchers who unpicked the algorithm in a car ingition key. 

The car maker's security focus comes as vehicles increasingly feature computing power and web connections, with the advent of self-driving cars taking such technologies a step further. At the same time, car hacks are already happening, with researchers dramatically taking over a Jeep driven by a journalist and criminals targeting keyless entry systems

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Volkswagen isn't the first to consider security in its cars. Uber hired one of the aforementioned Jeep-hacking researchers to work on security for its cars, while BT has set up a unit to test vehicle security.

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