Hackers have figured out how to break into your car's computer. After several months of research and testing, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek will publish detailed blueprints of the techniques to attack critical systems in the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape. They will make this knowledge known through a 100-page white paper.
According to their report, a hacker can control your steering wheel or suddenly slam on the brakes at 80 miles per hour. Or they can disable your braking system at slow speeds. No matter how hard you step on the brake the car will not stop. In other cases, they can accelerate your car when driving at slow speeds.
In their demonstration, they used a laptop computer while sitting in the automobile. They did not research remote hacking because another group had already done so. However, that group is unwilling to publish their findings. It is rumored they used Bluetooth systems and wireless networks in 2011 to break into a vehicle's computer system.
Sounds like James Bond, doesn't it?
Already we are bombarded with notifications about purchasing antivirus software for our computers. Now we should be on the lookout for the same software to protect our automobiles.
This news sets up a theme for World War III. The new mercenary will be the hacker, who is frequently teased and called a nerd, living at home with his parents and sitting in his bedroom orchestrating an attack. They will be able to immobilize an entire nation by controlling vehicles. At worst, they could take the lives of many by causing accidents on highways and city streets.
While this possibility seems far-fetched or too distant in the future, technology and software vulnerabilities make it a reality. If you have On Star, it may be wise to check with them to see if they are taking measures to ensure their system can protect you. They are already set up to control your vehicle through a wireless system.
On another front, there are hackers who have figured out how to override the door locks on luxury cars like Bentleys, Porsches, Audis and Lamborghinis. The researchers were planning to present their findings at a technology trade show. Except, Volkswagen obtained a restraining order from the British high court to prohibit the researchers from presenting their findings.
For now, we may safely ride and park our automobiles. Moving forward, we will have to take precautions that have never been considered. On the other hand, it would seem those who drive the old classic cars from the days when computers were not used could be immune to this threat.
If you are not driving an old classic, you should be nice to the nerds. If the hacker/nerd becomes the vicious soldier of war, you may be first on his or her list.
By Ted Santos