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Can Your Car Be Hacked?

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On: Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 10:30AM | By: Elizabeth Puckett


Can Your Car Be Hacked?

New videos have made their way around the internet over the last few weeks that show a startling reality for drivers: the technology in our cars has made them hackable!

Hardwired Hacking
This kind of hacking is done through the OBDII system of your car. The OBDII port is under your dash, by the floorboard of the driver’s side, and can be accessed only in person. To get into the port, the hacker would need access to your car to manipulate the settings and wiring. Should someone have this kind of access, they could take over the steering wheel, accelerator (if your car is a drive-by-wire model), and brakes of your vehicle. To prevent this kind of hacking, take your vehicle in for maintenance and repairs only at a licensed and reputable mechanic. This is also another good reason to secure your vehicle when not in use, especially overnight or in busy parking lots.

What You Should Do
First, if your car starts to malfunction, you should pull over safely whether you believe it has been manipulated by a hacker or not. Losing control of steering, braking, or accelerating is dangerous regardless of the cause. If your car has been the target of sabotage, take it to the dealership for full diagnostics—you’ll likely need a new OBDII at that point for your own safety.

Hacking Remotely
The possibility of hacking a car remotely is already pretty well known by most auto makers. Technology which is in place for making phone calls, listening to music, and starting the car from the outside can be hacked. A car could potentially be hacked through its infotainment system or through the Bluetooth and controls could be taken over. Hackers could use this access to control the brakes, security system, accelerator, alarm, and more on your car.

What You Should Do
If your car is hacked through your Bluetooth or other connected controls, you may notice odd glitches and your electronics acting up while the hacker is trying to pin down your wireless interface. Should you notice odd things happening with the technology in your car, be very vigilant and react quickly if your controls are taken over: pull over safely and turn your car off right away. Bring your vehicle into the dealership and express your concerns. The dealer may have to re-flash your system or set it to a different wireless frequency to root out the current driving pirate.

Why You Probably Don’t Have to be Worried
Sure, this all sounds pretty intense and even has characteristics of a good spy thriller movie, but its not as interesting or dangerous as it seems. To be realistic, most people wouldn’t qualify as an interesting target for hackers. On top of that, there are millions of cars on the road everyday and the odds of your car being targeted by a hacker are very slim. There are far more important things to worry about when it comes to driving, and hacking is probably not one you should spend too much time worrying about.

Another reason you don’t really need to worry is now that these techniques have been revealed to auto makers and technology developers, the problem will probably be addressed fairly quickly. The people who make your car don’t want it to be hacked and most already have security software imbedded in their infotainment systems and continue to improve upon technology.




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