Monday, August 9, 2010

Sophisticated Cars Soon Will Be Target For Hackers

Imagine driving and suddenly, you lose control of your car. Literally, you have control over your car. Gas break. Nada. Ignition. Forget about it. You can't roll down the window to cry for help. Someone has remotely hacked into your car. Well, that's not quite likely to happen at all, well, no for a while.

Nevertheless, a Texas man earlier this year did managed to remotely disable 100 cars. And this is the concern that we are likely to be faced with in the coming years as vehicles gain more wireless features - Bluerooth, RFID, WiFi, and cellular signals.

security researchers in the US have managed to hacked into tire-pressure monitoring systems. And that's just the beginning. The fear isn't that hackers can launch an attack in vehicles and take it over, though I have little doubt of that years down the line, hackers can listen in and monitor communications, track where vehicles went or are in transit to, and provide false information to the driver.

How far away are we from this? I honestly don't know but computers have been a part of motorized vehicles and, only recently, some models are gaining wireless access. So a remote hack is likely to cause very little damage if at all in the beginning. But it's likely to come a day when people will wake up and find that a whole fleet of vehicles will not start because of a hack, just like what this Texan man did, or find vehicles stolen because car thieves have managed to disable the security system.

Yeah, it's a very scary and soon to be real scenario. I don't know how careful manufacturers are in providing security but while computers in cars are a blessing, it can also be a nightmare.

Plus, imagine if there was a software patch and something goes wrong and the whole OS is corrupted. Just something to consider when you go to a car dealer and the mobile warrior in you is enticed by the latest and coolest computer-enhanced vehicle.

Am I worried?  Not at all.  But it is something we need to start thinking about.

More at Technology Review.

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