Popular speaker manufacturer buys auto cybersecurity firm

Harman International, maker of the popular JBL speakers, has agreed to buy automotive cybersecurity firm TowerSec.

The acquisition is the latest sign that companies are rushing to boost their digital defenses as cars become increasingly Internet-connected.

{mosads}”The demand for connected — and eventually autonomous — cars is accelerating quickly,” said Harman CEO Dinesh Paliwal in a statement. “At the same time, we cannot sacrifice security for functionality.”

One of Harman’s main businesses is selling audio products to auto manufacturers around the world.

The proliferation of such digital products within cars has created numerous vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

In 2015, security researchers and lawmakers repeatedly chastised the auto industry for failing to protect cars from getting hacked.

“Even as we are more connected than ever in our cars and trucks, our technology systems and data security remain largely unprotected,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who released in February the results of a study into the cybersecurity practices of 16 automakers that concluded vehicles’ security measures are “inconsistent and haphazard.”

In July, a Wired article recounted a dramatic demonstration in which two security researchers remotely commandeered a car from 10 miles away, forcing it off the road.

Days after the article came out, two senators unveiled the Spy Car Act, which would direct the government to create standards to shield cars from vicious hacks.

Harman said TowerSec will help in its own efforts to boost its products’ own digital defenses. The security firm focuses on detecting and thwarting hacking attacks in real time.

TowerSec CEO Saar Dickman said the partnership will “ensure cars on the road today and those designed for tomorrow are protected against cyberattacks and other intrusions.”

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