Hacking Cars Getting Easier and More Dangerous

06/24/2016 02:01 pm ET

If your car is in any way connected to the Internet, it can get hacked into. You know it’s only a matter of time before hackers begin infiltrating motor vehicles in droves, being that vehicles are plagued with hundreds to thousands of security vulnerabilities.

 

This hack is more serious than you think. Drivers and passengers should be aware that “flawed” and compromised vehicles can suddenly be overtaken remotely, forced into shutting down the engine in the middle of a highway or drive the car into other cars. And it’s not just cars, but 18-wheelers and busloads of people.

In fact, white-hat hackers (the good guys) have even demonstrated that a bad hacker could take control of a motor vehicle, ranging from annoying pranks such as turning on the windshield wipers and radio, to potentially lethal actions like stopping the engine.

Hackers could demand ransom from governments in bitcoins for the return of the vehicles’ control to their drivers. Or, as the Assistant Attorney General for National Safety has indicated, “connected cars are the new battlefield”. Connected cars could be used by terrorist organizations to create havoc on mass scale. The possibilities are limited by the imagination.

This concern has motivated the FBI, Department of Transportation and the National Traffic Safety Administration to issue a public safety alert, warning consumers to keep their service schedule in order to enable to upgrade cars’ software with remedies to those security vulnerabilities.

Solutions are available and in the works.

  • If your car has any web connecting abilities, do your research for year/make/model. Searched “hacked” along with the cars particulars.
  • Manufacturers that have discovered security vulnerabilities (often because a researcher makes it public) have offered subsequent patches in response. These notices may come in the mail or through a dealership.
  • It’s important to check with your cars manufactures website to determine if a vulnerability exists.
  • A connected vehicle has ECUs: electronic control units. An article in Fortune says Karamba Security’s “Carwall” can detect and thwart cyber attacks. Carwall is like a firewall for your vehicle ECU. It detects anything that’s not permitted to load or run on ECUs.

When the ECU software is being built, security software can be seamlessly embedded, becoming part of the entire process. No change of code, no developers’ know-how, no false positives and no hacks. Problem solved.

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