FBI Ironically Warns To Harden Vehicle Security While Attempting To Decimate iPhone Encryption

Alanis Morissette famously sang about there being rain on your wedding day and ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. She also belted out many other examples of irony, though if she's in need of a new verse, she may want to consider the FBI's public service announcement about the need to beef up security in today's Internet connected cars while simultaneously taking Apple to court in an attempt to weaken iPhone security.

Okay, maybe that's not being entirely fair, but it's hard not to see the irony here. On one hand, the FBI wants the courts to force Apple to assist with bypassing the security measures that are in place on an iPhone 5c that belonged to one of the San Bernardino shooters, despite Apple's warning that doing so would ultimately put hundreds of millions of iPhones at risk. The FBI's well known stance on encryption is that device makers should always leave law enforcement and government officials with an easy way in, otherwise known as a backdoor, even though doing so inherently weakens security.

Nissan Dash

On the other hand, the FBI in partnership with the Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a public service announcement (PSA) on Thursday warning motorists and automakers that today's motor vehicles are increasingly vulnerable to remote exploits.

"Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy, and greater overall convenience. Aftermarket devices are also providing consumers with new features to monitor the status of their vehicles. However, with this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats," the PSA states.

After running down a scary list of examples of how hackers can (and have) remotely attacked Internet-connected vehicles, the FBI-backed PSA makes several recommendations to consumers and automakers. The very first one is to ensure that any and all vehicle software is up to date, followed by a warning to be careful when making any modifications to vehicle software.

iPhone 5c

Did your irony meter just peg the red line or what? The same advice could and should be applied to smartphones, including iPhones—run the latest software and be wary of any modifications to that software. Yet that's exactly what the FBI wants Apple to do, to modify iOS in a way that would make it easy to guess the passcode.

"Making unauthorized modifications to vehicle software may not only impact the normal operation of your vehicle, but it may introduce new vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker. Such modifications may also impact the way in which authorized software updates can be installed on the vehicle," the PSA warns.

The PSA makes some very good points, we're not disputing that. We just find it amusing that the FBI is playing both sides of the security spectrum here.