Rochester security firm helps car companies by hacking their vehicles

It's hard to comprehend just how much cars are now controlled by computers. But with this marriage of transportation and technology, it helps to understand the security that protects these computers from would-be hackers. 

The alternative could mean someone wirelessly controlling a vehicle.

"We're able to control things like the windshield wipers. The scary part is if someone's able to control things like this, especially remotely, you can start controlling things like parameters of the engine," said Brandon Barry of Block Harbor Cybersecurity. 

Barry said there are five steps to security: identity, protect, detect, respond and recover. The Yale-graduate is embedded in the "identify" portion of those five steps. 

And that means acting like one of the bad guys. Using his firm Block Harbor Cybersecurity, Barry thinks like a hacker and tries to gain access to the computers that help run cars.

"What we do is look at the way a system is built and detect vulnerabilities to attempt to exploit them. So, in essence, we're acting like the attacker to find the holes so we can help our customers plug those holes," said Barry.

While Barry could have gone on to any high-end tech company in Silicone Valley, he instead picked Rochester as his home after college. Because his father worked at Ford Motor Company, Barry said he feels responsible to give back to the automotive world. 

Which is why he has merged his mind for tech with his appreciation for cars. To him, it will be necessary for self-driving vehicles to have solid security before ever becoming mainstream parts of the road.

"Nobody is going to want to get into a car that autonomous that they're not in control of, you know that's driving itself, if there's any possibility that a hacker may be able to gain access to that vehicle," Barry said. "But what we're doing is coming up with solutions, however small they might be to start protecting now, given that the future looks like this."