Hacking Rhetoric

Hackers Find Weaknesses in Car Computer Systems – Red Post – Sept 8

4 Comments

Hackers Find Weaknesses in Car Computer Systems

Hackers have recently demonstrated their ability to take control of automobiles and perform functions such as slamming on brakes at freeway speeds, turning the wheel, and turning off the car remotely. As computer technology and integration in cars increases, so does its vulnerability to hackers, recent reports have shown. In a few demonstrations, hackers would plug in a laptop to a port used by mechanics to diagnose problems with the car, and were able to take control of the car through their computer. In an even scarier demonstration, hackers were able to hack into the same functions via cell phone and bluetooth. These vulnerabilities to cars are a very real revelation not only about your safety from hackers when operating your vehicle, but about your safety from hackers when using any computer based technology. In my opinion, I seriously doubt that anyone driving their car is in any danger of being hacked, but the awareness that any technology that you possess could be hacked at some point in the future is very important. As technology advances, especially in the field of biomechanics and implants, serious damage could be done via hacking if there are any vulnerabilities.

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4 thoughts on “Hackers Find Weaknesses in Car Computer Systems – Red Post – Sept 8

  1. Sadly, there are pros and cons to cars nowadays. By using computers to run today’s cars, they made them vulnerable to hacking. However, when they implemented this technology, it was to ease the burden of mechanics when the car needed fixing. A test using the computer can scan the error messages that the car senses. It was to easily identify what part of the car was not working properly compared to disassembling the car physically into multiple parts to identify the problem. I found out about this because my car had computer difficulties and gave me warnings. The mechanics described how they fixed it. I agree that awareness is needed for the possibility of being hacked. They attack by using loopholes and weaknesses in websites and programs which hopefully are better encrypted in the future.

  2. The use of computing technology in increasingly sensitive areas is only beginning. One great example is the work of “Barnaby Jack”, a security professional with a particular interest on implanted medical devices. During one demonstration, he was able to successfully cause an insulin pump to deliver it’s maximum dosage of insulin repeatedly, until the entire reservoir was emptied — this would equate to many times over a lethal dose. The ability to end a life remotely will show up more and more as more of our lives are controlled by these devices. Fortunately, in this case, the flaws were found by an honest white-hat hacker and reported to the vendor of the device in a responsible fashion — if these same flaws had been found instead by cybercriminals, imagine the havoc that would be wrought.

    Personally, it is the hackers that make me feel safer. They are the ones examining these systems we all take for granted. They are finding serious flaws, and working with the creators of these systems to help fix them. It is not the hackers you need to fear — it’s the companies that want to save every nickel and dime in development costs, so they ship all this over to India and are rewarded with poor quality software that is ripe with horrific security flaws.

  3. This is extremely interesting to think about because indeed many cars are coming out with the OnStar function. My friend had one and when we were locked out he was able to simply call the company and have them unlock it for him. It didn’t occur to me until just now that it would be possible to hack the signal and break into the car itself to steal. I have a car that uses wireless key technology, which means that as long as I have my wireless key with me I can start my car with a push of a button. I wonder how vulnerable I really am to auto theft since all models of my car have it so it isn’t a secret.

    Thanks for sharing this thought and the link, really gets you thinking.

  4. One of the things I find most fascinating about this is the treatment in the media. Later in the semester we’ll be looking at car hacking in more depth (set up as a case study; we’ll look at media accounts as well as documentation offered by folks working on these projects)–but this concept came across my radar with some fairly hysterical news accounts suggesting that a journalist may have been killed through a ‘cyber attack’ on his car. Of course, it’s sensational (hence newsworthy), but they’re trying to whip up a fair bit of hysteria. Here’s one example from ‘The Huffington Post’: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/michael-hastings-car-hacked_n_3492339.html

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