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Hackers Hijack Prius with Mac Laptop

Hackers Hijack Prius with Mac Laptop

The Toyota Prius is one of the most high-tech cars on the consumer market. So many of its processes are linked up to the car's onboard computer that you almost don't even have to put your hands on the steering wheel to drive the car.  

In fact, for hackers like Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, all you need is a Macbook, a USB cable and a little creative thinking.

From the backseat of a Prius, these two security researchers have proven they can do everything from honk the horn to turn off the brakes just by tapping a few keys of their Mac laptops.

That's right: they can turn off the brakes. Even when someone is sitting in the front seat, hands on the steering wheel, furiously pressing down on the brake pedal — the car won't slow down. [See also: Why Internet Hacking Is Your Fault]

The two security researchers — Valasek works for IOActive and Miller for Twitter — have spent the last year looking for security vulnerabilities in computerized cars under a grant from the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 

At the annual DEF CON hacking conference held in Las Vegas, on Friday August 2,  Miller and Valasek will go into more detail about their discoveries, and demonstrate just how much control they can get over a car. But from what they've already revealed in previews, it's quite a lot.

Aside from turning off the brakes, which is terrifying enough in and of itself, Miller and Valasek can turn off power steering, make the onboard GPS systems give wrong directions, change the numbers on the speedometer and even make the car change direction.

Miller and Valasek's successful hacks drive home the fact that most modern cars are more computerized than we realize. With that computerization comes added convenience — as well as added risk.

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  • 0 Hide
    hfitch , July 26, 2013 12:38 PM
    It was chinese hackers screwing up Toyota cars a few years ago. Thats it thats why the breaks failed.
  • 0 Hide
    hfitch , July 26, 2013 12:38 PM
    It was chinese hackers screwing up Toyota cars a few years ago. Thats it thats why the breaks failed.
  • 0 Hide
    danwat1234 , July 26, 2013 8:47 PM
    Here is the video, the preview of what they have been able to do in a Prius and another car. They had to connect to the computers directly, as you can see, the dashboard was all taken apart.

    More in the future, more often computer systems in your car that are connected to the internet will probably have full access to the ECU (engine computer) and other critical CPUs. So remote hacking will be more of a concern in the future. But for right now in the majority of cars, the computer that has internet access can't access critical systems so remote hacking isn't possible (?). It can get information from critical systems but can't modify. Like say getting engine temp, regenerative braking data, but can't modify the systems at all. I hope
  • 0 Hide
    house70 , July 27, 2013 7:19 PM
    Great "hacking", indeed. They had to literally hack open the dashboard to do it. Wouldn't surprise me if they had to actually cut the brakes for the hack to work, lol.
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