McAfee Publishes Automotive Security Report Outlining The Lack Of Security In Vehicles Today

There have been some disturbing hacks on new vehicles recently with hackers finding a way to unlock your car via text message. McAfee is a security firm most known for protecting computers. The company has just issued a report (PDF) on the state of security in the automotive sector. This is the first report of its type and it examines the security of electrical systems that are common in the cars of today.

Cars use embedded computer systems in airbags, radios, power seats, and anti-lock brakes. The stability control, cruise control, and communications systems are also powered by embedded systems. It has been proven that parts of the automotive system can be hacked. One group of researchers found that by tracking RFID tags using long distance readers that privacy of a driver can be compromised from 40 meters away.

The report looks at security risks by criminal activity including the ability to unlock and start a car via cell phone, the ability to disable a car remotely, tracking a location and activity of a driver, stealing data from a Bluetooth system, and the ability to disrupt navigation systems. The disabling of emergency assistance is also looked at in the report. These hacks are disturbing to me and leave the door open for a criminal to disable parts of the car that could lead to an accident.