No Safe Zone for Hacking: How Automobile Hacking Works

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Friday, July 26th, 2013

SEOUL, KOREA - As soon as the security expert in the back seat said “I am running the brake,” the car stopped. The driver could not hold back his astonishment. This is how well automobile hacking can work.

Forbes warned of the danger of automobile hacking by displaying to the public how Ford’s Escape and Toyota’s Prius can be hacked. Two security experts manipulated the cars by using a wireless sensor network. From speed control to break control, they could control everything.

The experts consisted of a security engineer at Twitter and a security consultant at IOActive. Both work on a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded research project to detect automobile security vulnerability. The research results will be presented at DEFCON, the largest underground hacking conference.

As the number of semiconductor or network description-operated cars increases, there is a growing possibility of automobile hacking. Automobile manufacturers plan to release more Internet-based “connected cars” which only increases the potential danger of hacking.

The cars in Forbes’ rehearsal have 35 electric control units which control every facet of the car. Connected cars, in which semiconductor are connected to a wireless internet connection, can be vulnerable to hackers’ invasion.

The rehearsal has given more fuel to the conspiracy theory surrounding the death of Michael Hastings. Hastings, an investigative journalist who had tried to disclose the U.S. government’s secrets, died in a car accident which some think was linked to the government hacking his automobile.