Security researchers hack car computers with common parts

Shane McGlaun - Feb 6, 2014
Security researchers hack car computers with common parts

Modern cars all have so many computerized accessories and safety systems inside that they need a computer brain to control things. The problem is that these computer brains are often not secure at all leaving them vulnerable to hackers. A pair of security researchers have devised a device that can hack the computer inside a car and takeover systems.

The researchers are Javier Vazquez-Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera and they have cooked up a small handheld device using off the shelf and readily available components that is able to hack the computer brain in modern cars. The researchers say that their little device takes less than five minutes to hook to the car.

The off the shelf parts needed to build the car hacking device can be purchased for under $20. The systems the device can compromise vary depending on the car attacked. The researchers call their hacker tool the CAN Hacking Tool because it attacks the Controller Area Network bus. In tests, the duo has used the device on four different cars. They have been able to manipulate lights, turn on car alarms, control the power windows, and activate the brakes of the car.

Having control of the lights and brakes certainly means a nefarious hacker could potential cause an accident, possibly leading to death for driver or passengers. The researchers say that they want to create a version of the hacking tool with a GSM radio that would allow the vehicle systems to be controlled remotely. The duo says that they want their demo at Black Hat Asia to get automakers attention and will keep the source code for the tool private for now.

SOURCE: Engadget

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