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Walsh College now offering automotive cybersecurity course to students

Posted: 10:24 AM, Apr 18, 2017
Updated: 2017-04-19 05:12:58-04

As vehicles become increasingly connected, there’s a growing concern over hackability.

But what are the risks and plans for the future when it comes to our transportation? 

Barbara Ciaramitaro, a professor who specializes in cybersecurity and IT at Walsh College, stopped by Broadcast House this morning to talk about connected vehicles and the potential risks associated with the technology. 

She says while there are vulnerabilities, it's still important to remember that autonomy is meant to help us not harm us. 

"The purpose of connected and autonomous vehicles...the purpose is great: it's to stop injuries, to stop fatalities," said Ciaramitaro. 

But what aims to make our future vehicles great also has a dark side. 

"That very connectivity is what poses the risk for cyber malicious attackers to take advantage of it," she says. "All of the vulnerabilities we're most concerned with now have to do with connecting through the public internet, so whether it be WiFi or Bluetooth or GPS, or even now when you're talking about all the sensors of the connected cars, and autonomous -- they are open to the internet, and that way out allows people a way in."

The good news, Ciaramitaro says, is that automakers are constantly looking at the potential issues and preparing for the future. 

"Talking to all of the automakers and their suppliers, they are treating this as the highest priority. They have teams of people at all of the automotive companies and suppliers trying to identify in advance what could potentially be a vulnerability and how do we stop it before it can be misused," said Ciaramitaro. 

As this field continues to grow, Walsh College is also aiming to make sure students in Michigan are ready. 

"We are very proud, we have been working on this for about a year and a half, we are now the first college in the nation to offer an automotive cybersecurity course. We're in the Motor City, we want to prepare the employees that our businesses are looking for," she said. 

The course will cover legal issues and the standards for autonomous vehicles. Ciaramitaro says students will also work on connected vehicle components in order to fully understand them. 

The next session will be offered in the fall. 

If you're interested in learning more about this topic, Ciaramitaro is hosting an automotive cybersecurity seminar on April 25. More details can be found here.