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These Are the World's Most Hackable Cars

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 7 comments
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The 2014 Infiniti Q50. Credit: InfinitiThe 2014 Infiniti Q50. Credit: Infiniti

If you drive a "smart" car — especially a 2014 Infiniti Q50, a 2014 Jeep Cherokee or a 2015 Escalade — then hackers might be able to change the radio, manipulate the GPS or slam on the brakes, even while you're sitting in the driver's seat.

That's according to Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, two security researchers who are among the world's top experts in car hacking. Miller and Valasek plan to present their findings on how to hack into smart cars at the Black Hat and DEF CON security conferences in Las Vegas this week.

MORE: 7 Scariest Security Threats Headed Your Way

The 2014 Infinity Q50 has the dubious honor of being the most hackable car that Miller and Valasek tested. That's because the car's navigation, Bluetooth and radio functions all run on the same network as the car's engine and brakes, as the researchers told security news site Dark Reading. A hacker only needs to break into one network to seize control of all the car's networked features — and even the car itself.

But not all cars are hacked equally. The 2014 Audi A8 is Miller and Valasek's pick for "least hackable" car in their test, followed by the 2014 Dodge Viper and the 2014 Honda Accord.

What makes the 2014 Audi A8 stand out? Each of its computer components runs on its own network, protected by a gateway, and none of those networks are allowed access to the car's basic components, such as steering and brakes.

How can you protect yourself from automotive hacks? The easiest way is to just get a "dumb" car. The more connections your car has to the Internet, the more avenues of attack hackers have into your vehicle. 

Miller and Valasek have also developed a device that can plug into a car and detect network hacks, they told Dark Reading. The researchers will demo this device in Las Vegas as well.

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 2 Hide
    curiosul , August 4, 2014 9:45 AM
    Get a manual car. Even if that manual is a "smart" car. Urban legends say that at least once thieves gave up stealing a car because it had a stick shift. And also, get a car with a regular hand brake, just in case ...
  • 0 Hide
    ickibar1234 , August 4, 2014 10:17 AM
    It may be helpful to have an manual transmissioned car, but if it's hacked, it equally easy to stop from accelerating. Put it neutral.
    Electronic ebrake is something that could be controlled by hackers, depends on if it's networked or just controlled by a physical switch.

    I think some research has been done on hacking the Prius and also worries about security in the Model S. Curious about the Chevy Volt.
  • 0 Hide
    ickibar1234 , August 4, 2014 10:20 AM
    Electric power steering, collision avoidance technologies could cause crashes if hacked.
    All cars are drive by wire these days so hacking the butterfly valve solenoid could also cause a crash if the driver doesn't put it in neutral or press the brake.
    All cars have manual braking controls even in fully electric cars, it's not fully by wire, yet.
  • Display all 7 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Darkk , August 4, 2014 11:44 AM
    Critical systems should always use it's own private network that is not physically connected to any other network in the car. Only way to provide system updates is physically plug in either USB or wired network cable into it. Other systems like radio would be a minor annoyance.
  • -1 Hide
    cmi86 , August 4, 2014 11:53 AM
    What is wrong with the world... just buy an effing car and leave the pc on your desk. No reason a car needs to be so over engineered and prone to failure/manipulation.
  • 1 Hide
    WithoutWeakness , August 4, 2014 11:58 AM
    I'm curious where the Tesla Model S lands on the list (if it was included in the study) given it's inclusion of 3G data and the ability for Tesla to push over-the-air updates to the car's software package.
  • -1 Hide
    nebun , August 4, 2014 12:13 PM
    i bet you that they can't hack my 1991 Mercedes 300D....why would someone need wifi in a car??? and why is the GPS on the same network??? The government is trying to control everything...just like how they are making every car manufacturer to build electric cars...one way or another the government is responsible for all the good and bad things that happen
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