Advertisement
Find a Car
Go!

Security Alert: Could Hackers Break Into Your Car—Virtually?

Follow Bengt

Volvo Personal Car Communicator (PCC)

Volvo Personal Car Communicator (PCC)

Enlarge Photo
More expensive, more technologically advanced vehicles offer better all-around security, right? Well, maybe, but as new research to be unveiled this week looks poised to suggest, you might be opening yourself up to another type of break-in and presenting a challenge to hackers instead of mere street thieves.

Scientists have reported that they were able to hack into vehicles and control a number of functions including braking and other safety-critical features.

Though the kind of hacking might be more likely to be in the name of mischief than remote carjacking, it's certainly cause for worry—and a hint that your in-car settings might not be as guarded as those behind a firewall on your home PC.

As the New York Times reported this past week, the researchers are accusing the auto industry of not learning from the mistakes of the personal computing industry, and not adequately thinking about potential threats from hackers.

The results are to be presented with a paper—due to be presented this week at a security conference in Oakland, California—called “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile,” by a host of researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego.

Using various techniques, the researchers were able to break into vehicle networks and activate or change a range of features—in many cases, while the vehicle was in motion.

Chevrolet Volt OnStar mobile app

Chevrolet Volt OnStar mobile app

Enlarge Photo
Prior to the presentation, it's not clear whether the report will refer to GM's OnStar system, which offers remote unlocking services, or if the weak link, typically, is key fobs, Bluetooth systems, or core vehicle systems, but we'll keep you posted.

With more vehicles incorporating remote start features, vehicle networks, and screen-based interfaces, and with smartphone interfaces on the way for a number of vehicles including the 2011 Nissan LEAF and 2011 Chevrolet Volt (GM has just today revealed that Google Maps location services will be included), it's at the very least time to get proactive and apply more of the same principles we've been using to guard our PCs to our vehicles as well.

[New York Times]

 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (8)
  1. this is some James Bond kinda stuff. Technology has come a long way. To think my nokia phone use to only display a handfull of color shades and play snake, now we can potentially hack a car with a wireless device.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. between the software associated with the hybrid braking systems and the software associated with seemingly every other system in cars these days, was a matter of time before this kind of problem/danger reared its ugly head. nostalgic for the "old" days
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. Yeah, nostalgic for the old days when cars belched huge amounts of uncontrolled pollution ... and when your mom skidded, she hit a tree instead of the car catching it and dialing down the performance ... and the airbag was yer grandad not a life-saving device that lets you walk away from 40 mph crashes ... gimme a frackin' break, NOSTALGIC.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. I am especially concerned about proximity unlock. I don't care what kind of rotating encryption keys they may be using, someone will eventually be able to clone your keys as you pass next to them and just drive away with your car...
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. There's a lot to get excited about in some of today's new cars, but you'd think it's encrypted/guarded, right? If it hasn't been, that's just irresponsible.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. Really a good technology...and secured too..
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. This kind of security threat is worrying. It sounds as if it could enable a very disturbing kind of safety breach - one which is dangerous, and just for "fun" rather than financial benefit of the perpetrator. I only wish the car companies could come up with appropriate developments in security to keep up with the developments in technology, rather than using the equivalent of Tamper Proof Tape and hoping it'll hold.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  8. Just the title of this article was enough to start me worrying!
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Take Us With You!
   
Advertisement

More From High Gear Media


 
 
© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by Homestar, LLC. Send us feedback.