Modern Car Computers A Growing Focus For Hackers: Report Photo:

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Trevor Collett | Dec, 20 2014 | 4 Comments

Car hacking’ is increasingly on the minds of the world’s carmakers, and a new report suggests cars that possess the most modern technology are the most susceptible.

Wards Auto in the US cites the now well-known Toyota Prius video featuring Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg, which shows hackers controlling everything from the horn to the fuel gauge and even the car’s brakes.

The Prius video is now viewed as something of a ‘beginner’s course’ however, with increasing levels of wireless technology in cars potentially spelling a field day for modern hackers.

One counter-hacker said all a would-be criminal need do is access the ‘CAN’ (Controller Area Network) in order to control the car almost completely.

Hackers can use tyre pressure monitors or keyless entry systems to access a car’s brain, or even something as simple as a laptop in a workshop - which could infect a car with a virus that eventually spreads to other computers and workshops.

The lure of ‘connected cars’ using music or radio apps could also make a car owner susceptible, as even a downloaded song could contain the necessary virus to access the CAN.

The report categorises hackers into three fields: ‘kids and hobbyists’, ‘thieves’ and perhaps most worryingly, ‘terrorists’.

Kids and hobbyists are most likely to hack into a car’s central nervous system just to prove that they can, or for a cheap but potentially dangerous laugh.

Thieves are seen as the main area of concern, with a return to the ‘bad ‘ol days’ when car locks and alarms were viewed as virtually useless not out of the question.

The potential threat from terrorists in control of one or more cars in a given area is almost self-explanatory…

Thankfully, carmakers are taking the threat seriously with the likes of Tesla inviting would-be hackers to try and crack its software.

Researchers are also on board, with Professor Andry Rakotonirainy from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia saying the threat is ‘real’.

MORE: Traffic Signals Easily Hacked, Australian Systems At Risk - Security Researcher
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