The “connected car” is going to be one of those insufferably buzzy expressions you’ll be hearing a lot in coming months and years. I say insufferable because like so many cutting-edge technological advancements the connected part will be more aspirational than actual.
Fortune and Time Inc.’s TheDrive web site hosted a panel at a dinner Monday night at the LA Auto Show to discuss how to keep cars from being hacked. The short answer: It won’t be easy. That’s because most cars have multiple points of entry for bad guys without a cohesive automotive “operating system” to govern it all. What’s more, the software developers writing code for cars, while capable, aren’t the best prepared to combat hackers. As Andy Gryc, director of the Connected Car Expo adjacent to the auto show, says: “The mindset that it takes to actually hack into the car and to pull off exploits is very, very different from the mindset of the person who has to build against that.” (Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec has a thorough write-up of the panel here.)
But that’s Tesla, which accounts for a minuscule percentage of the global auto industry. (I spoke to executives in Los Angeles who think Tesla never will make money in cars but that it will cash in on batteries to power home electricity.) The rest of the auto industry is still manufacturing vehicles the old-fashioned way—with a bunch of software cobbled on top.
Cars are getting connected. But slowly.
This article first appeared in the daily Fortune newsletter Data Sheet. Subscribe here for a daily dose of analysis from Adam Lashinsky and a curation of the day’s technology news from Heather Clancy.
For more on the risks of connecting cars, watch the video below.