September 8, 2011
Are Computer Hackers Targeting Your Car?
Your vehicle is being made smarter and more connected with internet technology - and with increasing car computerization comes the increasing risk of hackers gaining control of that vehicle, The Register is reporting.
Communication services such as General Motor´s On-Call, on-board diagnostic features, GPS mapping remote starting, unlocking and soon, car-to-car communications that monitor traffic and road conditions are treading closer to hacker territory, according to a report by US computer security giant McAfee.
The first-of-its-kind report, entitled “Caution: Malware Ahead”, released Tuesday, warned that security is lagging as vehicles are enhanced with embedded chips and sensors for a growing array of purposes. “As more and more functions get embedded in the digital technology of automobiles, the threat of attack and malicious manipulation increases,” said McAfee senior vice president and general manager Stuart McClure.
“It´s one thing to have your email or laptop compromised, but having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety,” he added.
McAfee is strongly warning drivers that the potential for car-based hacker mischief is all too real. “As more and more functions get embedded in the digital technology of automobiles, the threat of attack and malicious manipulation increases,” McClure warns.
“Many examples of research-based hacks show the potential threats and depth of compromise that expose the consumer. It´s one thing to have your email or laptop compromised but having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety.”
The report continues by claiming, “The automobile industry is continually adding features and technologies that deliver new conveniences such as Internet access and the ability to further personalize the driving experience. However, in the rush to add features, security has often been an afterthought.”
According to McAfee there were no indications that hackers have yet taken advantage of computer vulnerabilities in cars, AFP reports, examples of such attacks actually happening in real life are absent.
A interesting exercise by F-Secure a few years back failed to hack into a car via Bluetooth and McAfee says they have not seen anything since to suggest that this has changed, even with advances in the sophistication of technology that might make such a scenario more feasible.
“As the trend for ubiquitous connectivity grows, so does the potential for security vulnerabilities,” said Wind River senior director for automotive solutions Georg Doll. “The report highlights very real security concerns, and many in the auto industry are already actively designing solutions to address them,” Doll added.
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