Get PJ Media on your Apple

The PJ Tatler

Bryan Preston


June 19, 2013 - 1:09 pm


Imagine this grisly scenario: You’re driving down the interstate with the cruise control set at the speed limit. Without warning, your car accelerates. The speedometer pushes past 100 miles per hour. Suddenly, the car turns left and crashes into the concrete median.

Or a tree. Whatever.

“Cars basically look like they have for 50 years, but underneath they’ve changed dramatically,” said John D. Lee, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin. “A car is a rolling computer network with 80 to 100 microprocessors and 100 million lines of code.”

It’s become such a concern that last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration quietly opened up a cyber terrorism department to keep track of software issues that could make cars vulnerable to attack.

You can’t buy a car these days without it having a computer or several computers embedded inside. Higher end cars tend to have more computers.

Researchers from the University of Washington and University of California-San Diego hacked into an ordinary, mid-priced, late-model sedan available to any consumer. They unlocked car doors, eavesdropped on conversations, turned the engine on and off and compromised critical vehicle systems.

In a follow-up experiment, the researchers, affiliated with the Center for Automotive Embedded Systems Security, breached all sorts of security measures, uploading malware from a doctored CD and obtaining “full control” over the sedan’s telematics unit by calling the car’s cell phone, according to their research.

They also compromised a Pass-Thru device, which helps auto technicians diagnose problems, which allowed them to subsequently connect to every car that later was plugged into that device. This was particularly troublesome, because it meant hackers could infiltrate more than one car from a single entry point.

In even better news, automakers are now updating car computer software wirelessly.

More: Jalopnik mocks the above AOL article as “fear-mongering BS.”

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (5)
All Comments   (5)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
Cars have more brains than their drivers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Can the hackers make the car explode sending the engine 40-50 yards down the road?

Remember the movie "Christine"?

Remember BENGHAZI!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've been saying there's a problem ever since the driver-less cars were announced. Just wait until someone hacks those things. Not if, but when.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As interconnected as the various systems on vehicles have become, did anyone really expect any less? Now that nearly every system in most modern vehicles such as engine management, braking control, traction control, entertainment, climate control, security, etc., are connected to one another via data links, this had to be expected. Especially after wireless connectivity and integrated cellular systems were thrown in the mix.

Now while I don't believe we're in danger of some massive hacker induced vehicular Armageddon anytime soon, it is certainly feasible to some degree. Jalopnik does make some points, but how many times have we seen drivers out there who become absolutely helpless in even minor emergencies? To this day there are many people out there that truly believe that the steering and brakes become completely nonfunctional once the engine is off.

So the danger is being overstated to a certain degree, but the fact remains that there are very real concerns that should be addressed. Recent revelations of various agency activities is proof of that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Does Jalopnik know about the IRS and NSA revelations?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All