camaro_hacker car hackYour car could well be the next target for hackers… or is it? Why would anyone want to hack your car anyway? This past summer has seen numerous articles on the new threat of car hacking “the crime of the future”… The threat is simple, someone doesn’t like you, so they hack into your car from a distance taking control of it and causing it to crash, or perhaps they are not quite that malicious, so instead they remotely interfere with your cars normal systems in some way so as to become an annoyance.

Is this reality or still science fiction?

No, it is a reality, and this past summer at a security conference in California a man named Stefan Savage and his team presented their research and demonstrated how using a cars computer system they were able to break in and take control of the vehicle, doing things such as breaking and accelerating (all against the will of the driver). Now that we are seeing a lot more wireless access, the problem of car-hacking could be one anticipated to grow. In fact there has already been documented cases. In one case a car salesman in Texas remotely broke into vehicles of people who were late on their payments, he would do things such as honking their horn or disabling the car altogether. It is reported that up to 100 people found their cars inoperable after his hack. He was reportedly fired from the dealership.

Savage has been quoted as saying “To be fair, you should expect that various entry points in the automotive environment are no more secure in the automotive environment than they are in your PC,” [The New York Times].

Can car hacking be profitable for the perpetrator?

The majority of computer crime these days is taking place for one reason… money! And the things that are being pursued are primarily those that have the potential to reap large monetary rewards quickly. Is it possible to hack a car for profit? Yeah, probably in some kind of unusual way and obscure way, but probably not on any large scale. Does that mean we won’t see it happening? No, I’m certain this will be something that hackers want to play with a little, but probably won’t turn into any kind of major threat. You also have to consider that major auto manufacturers are not going to play around with their security. Just because up till now car security is no better than your average PC, doesn’t mean it is going to stay that way. Savage admits “I think at this point these attacks are much more fantastical than a real thing people need to be concerned about today.” I agree, I don’t anticipate we will be seeing much destructive car hacking action in the near future.

What are your thoughts? Are you concerned?

Discover Magazine, Forget car-jacking, car-hacking is the crime of the future.  CNET News