The cars that are manufactured today, resemble advanced computer systems, because of how electronically controlled they are. From car door locks to steering wheel to engine functions – everything can be controlled by a computer. As a result, researchers have concluded that just like standard computers, these vehicles may be subjected to hacker attacks through wireless technologies. Wireless hacking has become a real problem for vehicle owners worldwide.
Most modern cars are made with technical features that are dependent on advanced electronic systems. Reports have shown that such vehicles are prone to be hacked by experts, through infotainment systems, smartphones, wireless networks, etc. It’s not just computer viruses. Even a malicious CD, placed into the stereo section of your vehicle, can pose great danger to the security setup.
Imagine yourself that someone can hack your car’s system when you get out of the vehicle and leave the engine running. You open the door, get out of the vehicle and… the car closes itself, leaving your keys locked inside! The best case scenario is that you will be able to get back into the car fast if you call for an experienced car locksmith, he shows up fast and unlocks the vehicle for you. The worst case scenario is that your cell phone will be locked inside the car too, so you won’t be able even to call anyone and ask for help.
There have been reports about hackers who tried to get control over luxurious and popular car models. Although to this point, thieves have not managed to steal a car in such a way, they have succeeded in taking full control of the steering wheel, brakes, engine and so forth.
Hackers can make vehicles turn, accelerate or come to a sudden stop, control the alarm and smart key systems, honk the horn, modify the gas gauge and speedometer reading, the headlights, kill the brakes and more.
The possibility of having your car hacked from a distance is not far-fetched, if not prevented beforehand.
The First Device That Was Hacked
The first device that was hacked is the Zubie. Students and researchers from the Israel’s cyber intelligence division discovered that Zubie, one of the most advanced and reliable car safety-enhancing technologies, can be used to tamper with the car’s engine system, steering wheel and brakes, remotely. In the history of cyber-attacks, this was the first successful attempt.
Zubie is a powerful security gadget that keeps track of a vehicle’s location and performance. The owner can control it from anywhere, through remote control devices. This device consists of hardware that is plugged into the mobile GPRS modem and the OnBoard Diagnostic (OBD2) car port, which makes it a popular target for “professional” hackers.
For all these reasons, the research team tried to hack the hardware and discovered that the security system device had a critical weak point— the ability to download recent updates from its remote server, without the use of encrypted communications. The conclusion was, in case of necessity, the identity of the device could not be verified, which makes it a great target for hackers.
With the help of another tool, researchers managed to control and access the Zubie device settings, by tapping into all the vehicle systems via the controller area network bus. They were able to control the car’s systems remotely and wirelessly.
In conclusion, no matter how advanced automotive security systems are, there are still ways to hack them, so automakers have to pay greater attention to cyber security breaches.