New vehicles equipped with modern technology offer more conveniences and luxury to drivers while at the same making cars more vulnerable to hackers.
Vehicles coming off the production line over the last decade have evolved into not just powerful modes of transportation, but the inclusion of technology has produced drivable computers. These new digital cars, trucks and SUVs give the driver touch screens, digital radio and car controls such as temperature, music and more. However, just as PCs and other digital devices are vulnerable to the malicious activities of hackers, so now are the vehicles on the road.
US security experts conducted an investigation to determine just how serious the issue of car security may be revealing through experiments the shocking truth of just how much damage can be done in the wrong hands. Experts managed to take control of a vehicle, while someone else was behind the wheel through the simple use of a laptop computer.
Using cables, the researches were able to hack into the cars on-board diagnostics port and electronic control units. They were able to take complete control of the two models used in the experiments including steering, using the breaks and even invading the monitor displays all from the backseat using a laptop computer. Two popular cars the 2012 Ford Escape and Toyota Prius were used to demonstrate this dangerous security problem.
In a separate experiment, security experts managed to convert the touch screen instrument panel into a clock. Counting down from 60 seconds the team forced the vehicle to begin honking its horn in the last few seconds on the countdown and completely disable the car by shutting off the engine and locking doors as the clock reached zero.
Teams of researchers found that everything in these new models is vulnerable to hackers from the lights, instrument panels, steering and brakes to the engine itself. Its conclusion is that newer model vehicles are too fragile and that security should be a top issue for car makers light of this new information.
The only positive to this situation currently, according to the security team, is that cars are not yet connected to the internet where hackers could truly do some serious and dangerous damage. For the moment this means that hackers must have physical access to the vehicle in order to implement an attack.
As more cars are being internet accessible, researchers are urging manufactures to develop protections for these moving computers. The potential damage hackers could do from the internet poses a real threat to driver’s security and even threatens loss of life.