Could A Hacker Take Control Of Your Car?

You may not know it but your car resembles your home PC in several ways.

There is so much that is controlled by a computer in the car that this has, to a fair degree, led to the end of the backyard mechanic.

Now you need to have special equipment to be able to work on most of the newer car these days.

Sure, you can do the basics such as a lube job but to really go in depth with the car you are really going to need specialist equipment.

what could a hacker do to your car?

Car Hacking

Hackers know this as well.

Hackers on both the good side and the bad side of the law are starting to research ways that they are able to get control of your car while you are driving it.

The black hat hackers want to be able to sabotage you while you are driving.

The white hat hackers want to be able to stop the black hat hackers from doing what they are trying to do.

Over the last couple of months we have been hearing reports of new attacks that have been able to stop major systems in a car.

The most major systems that are being affected are the braking and steering.

It is bad enough that a bad guy can have the equipment to make your financial life a living hell but now, with the power to be able to attack major systems in your car, they can start to put your actual life in jeopardy.

When you are talking about someone messing with your car while you are driving it you are talking about the equivalent of cutting someone’s brakes.

The reports coming out about these kinds of attacks have been scary but so far none of this has been put into actual practice as of yet.

Reverse Engineering

Most of the software that is on cars is proprietary so a bad guy would have to be able to reverse engineer the source code to be able to run one of their attacks.

Of course this possible, but it is hard enough to reverse engineer software on a normal computer, never mind the software in a car.

To try to do an attack on a car’s onboard computer is a pretty tough thing to do.

A person being able to tweak the onboard computer in a car is not a new thing – we have seen people change the fuel injection in a car that is run by computer.

The difference here is that the hackers are able to get deeper into the system than they ever were before.

This is something that people should really be aware of in the near future.

We have seen how bad a computer malfunction can affect a car – the brake problems that Toyota mini vans were having a couple of months ago were thought to be a computer glitch.

If someone is able to run an attack like that on purpose then there would be big trouble.

Equally worrying, perhaps, is a story about how IBM may want to influence your car… ‘stopping power‘.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. I have read a few articles about this since it has been in the news some.
    Now to be able to take over your cars computer wouldnt somone have had to have access to the computer terminal in the car/truck/van.
    Wait would they really have to have direct access. Seems anywhere you take your car today they want to hook your computer up to check it for something or another. What if their computer is infected with something, wouldnt it be possible to transfer that something to your cars computer since they do transfer information.

    Just a thought.

    • Its a very worthwhile thought though Dave – the odd hacker getting into the odd car isn’t that much of a deal in the grand scheme of things but a virus getting into a whole run of cars coming off the assembly line… could lead to a new and interesting breed of ransomware couldn’t it?

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