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Can Your Car Be Hacked? Experts Say Yes

Two groups of scientists are expressing concerns about the Internet connections in automobiles that are expected to increase in the future, making vehicles potentially open...
May 18, 2010

Two groups of scientists are expressing concerns about the Internet connections in automobiles that are expected to increase in the future, making vehicles potentially open to attacks by hackers. In a paper to be presented at a computer security conference in May, the scientists say that they gained remote control of braking and other functions on vehicles and automakers were facing the same security risks as the manufacturers of personal computers.

The paper, "Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile," demonstrates the ability to control a broad range of automotive functions, blocking all input from drivers. The hackers successfully disabled brakes, selectively braked individual wheels, stopped the engine and adversely controlled other computer systems. They also demonstrated what they described as "composite attacks" that showed their ability to insert malicious software and then erase any evidence of tampering after a crash. Although there has been widespread speculation about the role of software-controlled systems in the safety crisis that Toyota has faced this year, the researchers said they were not exploring the general issue of the safety of computerized systems, only the issues related to network security.

Cars' Computer Systems Called At Risk to Hackers (New York Times 5/14/10)