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Experts identify potential security, privacy risks posed by e-scooters

According to new research carried out by computer science experts at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), micro-mobility vehicles such as e-scooters have risks beyond the perils of potential collisions.


Experts identify potential security, privacy risks posed by e-scooters
According to the study, hackers could even spoof GPS systems to direct riders to unintended locations, vendors, on the other hand, can suffer denial-of-service attacks and data leaks. Image Credit: Pixabay

To address a host of challenges surrounding urban mobility such as rising congestion, parking, and energy efficiency, new and sustainable modes of mobility are fastly emerging in major cities around the world. However, this new transportation paradigm brings forth new cybersecurity and privacy risks as well, warns a new study.

According to new research carried out by computer science experts at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), micromobility vehicles such as e-scooters have risks beyond the perils of potential collisions.

E-scooters and the software services and applications associated with them can pose a serious risk to both riders and vendors, compromising personal and sensitive data beyond just billing information. Using easily and cheaply accessible hardware and software tools such as Ubertooth and WireShark, Intruders could eavesdrop on the wireless channels used by some e-scooter to communicate with their riders and listen to data exchanges between them, the study noted.

The security review was conducted by Murtuza Jadliwala, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science alongside graduate students Nisha Vinayaga-Sureshkanth, Raveen Wijewickrama and postdoctoral fellow Anindya Maiti.

We've identified and outlined a variety of weak points or attack surfaces in the current ride-sharing, or micromobility, ecosystem that could potentially be exploited by malicious adversaries right from inferring the riders' private data to causing economic losses to service providers and remotely controlling the vehicles' behavior and operation.

Jadliwala

According to the study, hackers could even spoof GPS systems to direct riders to unintended locations, vendors, on the other hand, can suffer denial-of-service attacks and data leaks.

"To ensure that the industry stays viable, companies should think not only about rider and pedestrian safety but also how to protect consumers and themselves from significant cybersecurity and privacy threats enabled by this new technology," research lead Jadliwala noted.

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