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BLOG: Crowdfunded lock lets car owners secure their data

paulfroberts | April 2, 2013
With the federal government proposing airplane style "black boxes" in every automobile, a crowd-funded project wants to design a lock that will allow car owners to secure their data from snooping and tampering.

"You hold the key, not automakers, law enforcement or insurance companies. If others want to access your crash data they will have to seek your permission or use legal means to do so. Basically, this device protects your interests."

Kowalick says that he has counted 29 different companies making products to erase or alter crash data in some way. Some of that is linked to fraud on the second hand car market. But owners could just as easily be victims if data of an accident scene can be altered before, during or after acquisition by law enforcement and others. Car owners may not be in a position to monitor or control access do the data in the event of an accident, when their vehicle suddenly becomes part of a crime scene or investigation. His AUTOCyb key, he said, is about securing the chain of custody around EDR data in the event of an accident.

Kowalick's crowdfunded project is looking to raise $132,000 by May 14th. Those who contribute $33 will receive an AUTOCyb lock for their car. The proceeds of the project, which is hosted on, will go to ramping up product development, production and marketing of AUTOCyb, he said.

"If that data is taken out, we want to know who has taken it out and when," he said.

With cars adding more "intelligent" features, security products like AUTOCyb is likely to be just one of many applications seeking access to auto systems. In just one recent example, the firm Automatic Labs Inc. is selling a hardware device that plugs into the OBD port and links the car's diagnostic systems to an iPhone or Android mobile application using Bluetooth 4.0 technology. The hardware-software bundle allows drivers to monitor their own driving performance for fuel hungry activities like rough breaking, speeding and rapid acceleration.

Going forward, that kind of vehicle data may also be of interest to insurance providers, who could monitor drivers actual performance on the road and use it to assess their risk - rewarding good drivers with lower rates, said Richard Bishop, the President of Bishop Consulting and an expert on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).


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