“Cars are one of the most expensive, biggest, dangerous computers you own. It’s one of the few computers that can go 120 miles an hour. Right? Like it’s a big machine run by software that can get hacked and is, you know, dangerous.”
“You want technology to progress, but at the same time you want it to be secure.”
This is something that most people don’t realize about their vehicles, particularly newer models and especially the ones with the self-driving technology. Just like any other computer system, they can be hacked. Which means that someone who is not in the car, or anywhere near the car that you are driving can take over control of the car and get it to do what it wants. This is a very real issue to be concerned about.
We Were Warned About This…
Wikileaks warned us about this last year, revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has looked into hacking cars, Wikileaks asserts that this technology could be easily used to carry out “nearly undetectable assassinations.” This is the obvious concern for hackers having the ability to control your vehicle, but vehicles could also be stolen this way as well.
In 2013, WikiLeaks had suspicions about the death of a journalist, Michael Hastings, who was killed in a single-car accident in Los Angeles. Some people even speculate that the death of famous Actor, Paul Walker, was caused this way. In fact, Walker’s daughter sued the makers of the car her father was driving, Porsche, because of an apparent “malfunction” of the car.
In 2015, security researchers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, were able to hack into a 2014 Jeep Cherokee and successfully manages to “turn the steering wheel, briefly disable the brakes and shut down the engine.” They also found that they could access thousands of other vehicles that also used a wireless entertainment and navigation system called Uconnect, this was common for Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles. This hack prompted Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles. Take a look,
“It doesn’t appear that any manufacturers currently have detection/prevention methods for such attacks,” Valasek said via email Tuesday. “Remember, Charlie and I did all this research in our spare time with limited resources. ”
More Cases Of Car Hacking
In 2010, and 2011 researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California published papers showing that vehicles could be compromised when hackers gain access, either in person or remotely.
In 2016, another study was published in Germany where researchers successfully unlocked and started 24 different vehicles with wireless key fobs by taking control of the device remotely and amplifying its signal.
According to the Vice President of marketing at Argus Cyber Security, Yoni Heilbronn, “The equation is very simple. If it’s a computer and it connects to the outside world, then it’s hackable.”
It’s important to know that whole hackers can hack your car, it is still very unlikely. But regardless of that fact, car companies should be a bit more wary in regards to security systems on their vehicles.
The entertainment system in the vehicle is most vulnerable, one of the most popular is called QNX, which operates the in-car entertainment and the navigation technologies. QNX is owned by the company that is now known as Blackberry. This system has been used in over 50 million vehicles including Audi, Ford and Maserati, according to a Blackberry spokeswoman, “Providing the highest level of security has always been at the core of our mission.” The company also added that its security research groups are constantly monitoring and checking their security for vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
The ability to hack could also grant access for the CIA to track a vehicle, listen in on conversations, and monitor any other data passing through the vehicles system.
It is difficult to tell when a vehicle has been hacked, but it would be wise for manufacturers to consider this, and develop some sort of safety around any “suspicious activity” or some sort of alarm for any outside interception of any kind.
Automakers are well aware of this problem, so we can only hope that security is taken seriously, and the problem will continue to be addressed.
It’s important to know that while this is a potential concern, the computer operating system on vehicles also provide many modern safety features that can save your life, anti-lock brakes, lane-assist technology, automatic crash notification, hands free-calling and many others. Unfortunately, there isn’t really anything you can do about avoiding cyber hacks.
Reprinted with permission from Collective Evolution.