McAfee: Hackers Going After Cars Next

Wednesday McAfee released a report called "Caution: Malware Ahead" (pdf) which talks about electrical systems that have become commonplace in today’s cars, and the emerging security risks surrounding those systems.

"The report highlights very real security concerns, and many in the auto industry are already actively designing solutions to address them," McAfee said. "Given the development time for automobiles, the industry is finding it essential to start work now by teaming up with those possessing the right mix of software expertise."

Airbags, radios, power seats, anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability controls, autonomous cruise controls, communication systems and in-vehicle communication systems -- all of these consist of embedded devices that could be susceptible to hacking in left unchecked. To make matters worse, the automobile industry is continually adding features and technologies to further personalize the driving experience, to keep the driver and the passengers connected to the world.

"Consumers want to stay connected, even in their cars, which is motivating automobile manufacturers to increase integration between cars and consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets," McAfee said. "However, in the rush to add features, security has often been an afterthought. The report highlights examples of how automotive systems have been compromised."

Some of the security risks the report covers includes remotely unlocking and starting car via cell phone, disabling a car remotely, tracking a driver’s location, activities and routines, stealing personal data from a Bluetooth system, disrupting navigation systems, disabling emergency assistance and more cybercriminal activity.

"Researchers at several universities have demonstrated that critical safety components of an automobile can be hacked if physical access to the vehicle’s electronic components is available," McAfee said. "Other researchers have showed that an attack can be mounted to track a vehicle and compromise passengers’ privacy by tracking the RFID tags using powerful long-distance readers at around 40 meters."

To read the full report, check out McAfee's document here.

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  • Frankly there are some places in the world that should not be connected to the internet. A car is one. Another would be the government classified computer system.
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  • Frankly there are some places in the world that should not be connected to the internet. A car is one. Another would be the government classified computer system.
    10
  • Really doesn't surprise me at all...well, actually it kind of did, but only before I realized how much of a 'duh' moment this is for the auto industry.
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  • Researchers at several universities have demonstrated that critical safety components of an automobile can be hacked if physical access to the vehicle’s electronic components is available.


    That made me laugh. It's like saying, "Hey, we did some research over here and you know what, we found out that if someone has access to your door lock, shit, they can unlock it!" It's so obvious, if you have access to the controlling mechanism of something you will in fact have control of it.

    Now enough with that, I'm surprised this hasn't been raise before, it's not a new issue. When cars started to do wireless entry and start in the 90s I thought it was a bad idea. One person could break into a car without to much difficulty if they had the right device. For example, watch Ghost Dog, you'll see what I'm talking about. People should just be lucky criminals haven't taken the time to go high tech, eventually they will. They should have known that well over a decade ago.
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