We’ve never lived in a time where the average person is more vulnerable to hacking. Between our computers, smartphones and tablets, there are plenty of ways for enterprising black hats to infiltrate your devices. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with your Blackberry, Palm Pilot, or even your Packard Bell (those are what all the cool kids use, right?). Your car can also be hacked and yes, controlled remotely.
Before your freak out too much, the experts in this video point out that hacking a car requires a pretty high level of sophistication. However, if you do know what you’re doing, it’s not expensive, or time-consuming.
Considering knowledge has a way of spreading, maybe you should freak out a little bit, or at least be somewhat mindful of who you piss off.
“As I drove to the top of the parking lot ramp, the car’s engine suddenly shut off, and I started to roll backward. I expected this to happen, but it still left me wide-eyed.
I felt as though someone had just performed a magic trick on me. What ought to have triggered panic actually elicited a dumbfounded surprise in me. However, as the car slowly began to roll back down the ramp, surprise turned to alarm as the task of steering backwards without power brakes finally sank in.
This wasn’t some glitch triggered by a defective ignition switch, but rather an orchestrated attack performed wirelessly, from the other side of the parking lot, by a security researcher.
In this episode of “Phreaked Out,” we met some of the top security researchers at the center of the car hacking world. The goal isn’t to make people crash: They highlight security holes in order to highlight flaws in car technology, intended to pressure auto manufacturers to be a few steps ahead of their friendly foes.
Information security researcher Mathew Solnik gave us a first-hand demonstration on how to wirelessly send commands to the car and remotely tell it what to do. With a little over a grand and about a month of work, Solnik found time outside of his full-time job to reverse-engineer a car’s computer system to make it ready for a takeover.
Read more at Motherboard
From his laptop, he was able to manipulate the car’s engine, brakes and security systems by wirelessly tapping into the Controller Area Network, or CAN bus, network. Without getting too deep into the details—both for legal reasons and due to my own training-wheel knowledge of such things—he was able to do so by implementing some off-the-shelf chips, a third party telematic control unit, a GSM-powered wireless transmitter/receiver setup, and a significant amount of know-how he’s accrued over the years.
The reason for such additional hardware was to make our older, mid-sized sedan function like a newer—and arguably more vulnerable—stock vehicle, which these days often come with data connections. (We would have loved to tinker with the latest, most connected car on the market, but since we were on a shoestring budget and it’s incredibly hard to find a friend who’s willing to lend their car for a hacking experiment, our pickings were slim.)
With that said, a car whose network system is connected to a cloud server and accessible by Bluetooth, cell networks, or wi-fi is potentially vulnerable to intrusion.