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Hackers Taking Over Your Car By @MissKatherineLK | @ThingsExpo #IoT

Imagine speeding down the highway when all of a sudden your brakes give out and your speed increases

Hackers Taking Over Your Car
By Katie Kennedy

A recent purchase of mine was a 2015 Jeep. Until now, I thought it was a safe and reliable car, but that is not the case anymore. As technology advances and cars become smarter and more technologically savvy, they become another target for hackers.

Imagine speeding down the highway, zooming past 18-wheelers, SUVs and coupes, when all of a sudden your brakes give out and your speed increases. Instantly, you think what could be wrong with the car, you pump your breaks and check your dash and there is no sign of stopping. Instant panic washes over you and a feeling of dread drowns out the honking horns. This is what could happen with the hackable car systems.

Hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have successfully, wirelessly hijacked the Jeep Cherokee. Previously, Miller and Valasek had compromised a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius, although for these hacks, the attacker’s PC had to be physically wired into the vehicles’ on board diagnostic port. This port is where repair technicians have access to information on the car’s electronically controlled systems. Controlling the car from a close proximity and a physical connection was limiting for hackers. Now it can be done from anywhere in the world. Miller observed, “when you lose faith that a car will do what you tell it to do… it really changes your whole view of how the thing works.”

In 2012, Miller and Valasek were inspired by the UCSD and University of Washington study to apply for a car-hacking research grant from DARPA. Miller, a security researcher for Twitter and former NSA hacker, and Valasek, the director of vehicle security research at the consultancy IOActive, ended up with $80,000, that purchased a Toyota Prius and Ford Escape. With these two vehicles, they were able to completely take over the car’s system and control it with a beat-up Mac laptop. This was when they had to be physically connected to the car’s computer. That all changed with a car’s Wi-Fi network, shifting the hack to become completely virtual.

When Miller and Valasek hacked the Jeep Cherokee, they had the ability to lower speeds and fully kill the engine, abruptly employ the breaks or completely disable them. Currently, they can only gain access to the wheel when the Jeep is in reverse. The GPS in the Jeep can be tracked, so hackers can track the car, measure the speed and drop pins in the map to trace its route.

Due to Miller and Valasek’s work, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal plan on introducing an automotive security bill that will set new digital security standards for cars and trucks. This bill was first sparked when Markey noted Miller’s and Valasek’s work in 2013.

The findings of Miller and Valasek’s do not only highlight Jeep’s vulnerabilities, instead, they suggest that any modern vehicle could be vulnerable. With the increased demand for the latest technology in cars, security measures are falling behind. Some companies are taking the necessary steps in counteracting the security flaws, while others are not doing anything at all. To have the ability to hack any vehicle from any location is detrimental. With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular service and radios, technology is changing the auto industry. To make sure automobiles do not turn into death traps, security should be high priority for auto companies.

Find out more information on Miller and Valasek’s hack here on Wired.

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com