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Are Car Computers Vulnerable too?

Are Car Computers Vulnerable too?

Posted on 22nd Aug 2012 @ 11:51 AM

computer-hacking.jpgComputers are everywhere nowadays. They have become almost completely integrated into every aspect of our everyday lives. They have even been installed into many new cars to assist drivers in many ways. But is this new advancement in technology leaving usopen to greater threats? The threat of someone hacking your car’s computer is becoming more and more real every day, but luckily, many information security companies are currently developing ways to protect your car’s computer from hackers. If a hacker were to hack your car’s computer, it would a potentially life-threatening invasion of privacy.

At this time, it is unknown exactly what someone could do if they were to gain control of a car’s computer, but the potential danger is far too great to risk. Thankfully, several security firms are stepping forward to develop security that will keep your car’s computer safe and sound.

According to a report released this week from Reuters, Intel Corp’s McAfee unit is one of several companies looking currently looking for a solution to the vulnerability and protect drivers on the road all over the world.

Although placing a computer inside a car to assist the driver is an incredible technological achievement, many security experts have told Reuters that auto manufacturers have not been successful in protecting the car computers from hackers.  Some experts believe that if a hacker were to hack into a car’s computer, they would be able to eavesdrop on conversations inside the car, steal cars, and maybe even cause car accidents. Thus far, is no record of any such attacks happening, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ever going to happen.

However, some car manufacturers are taking the steps needed to secure car computers. For example, Ford’s in-vehicle communications and entertainment system Sync is in the process of being secured by a team of engineers. A Ford spokesman told Reuters that the company is taking the threat of car computer hacking very seriously, and having their system secured by engineers demonstrates that effort.

McAfee executive Bruce Snell told Reuters that automakers are in fact nervous about potential cyber attacks.

“If your laptop crashes you’ll have a bad day,” he said. “But if your car crashes that could be life threatening.”

McAfee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A group of East Coast computer scientists reported last year that computer Trojans can be delivered to cars via sources like onboard diagnostics systems, wireless connections, and even tainted CDs pushed into the stereo system.

Essentially computers on wheels, modern cars run with dozens of tiny computers, or electronic control units, which are powered by the same technology used in mobile phones and Bluetooth. The embedded computer code used to connect in-vehicle systems like the engine, brakes, and navigation system, plus lighting, ventilation, and entertainment, open automobiles to a host of opportunities for an attack, Reuters said.

Despite their rush to secure vehicles’ systems, electrical engineer Joe Grand said that the average auto company is still lagging about 20 years behind software firms in preventing cyber attacks.

AUTHOR - Michael Peros

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