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With debates recently about Michael Hastings and his run away Mercedes or how Terrorists want our cars; Andy Greenberg writer for Forbes went hunting to find out if cars are indeed hackable. Greenberg met up with Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, two engineers contracted by DARPA to research car hacking.

The Spark is a slave to its ECU(s), as are most modern cars, gone are the days of none or one maybe two computers; the Prius in the video below has something like 35 ECUs all responsible for different operations. The two engineers proceed to show how vulnerable modern vehicles can be, fiddling with the speedo, fuel gauge, transmission, brakes, steering and even the horn.

Greenberg wrote this:

“The duo plans to release their findings and the attack software they developed at the hacker conference Defcon in Las Vegas next month–the better, they say, to help other researchers find and fix the auto industry’s security problems before malicious hackers get under the hoods of unsuspecting drivers. The need for scrutiny is growing as cars are increasingly automated and connected to the Internet, and the problem goes well beyond Toyota and Ford. Practically every American carmaker now offers a cellular service or Wi-Fi network like General Motors’ OnStar, Toyota’s Safety Connect and Ford’s SYNC. Mobile-industry trade group the GSMA estimates revenue from wireless devices in cars at $2.5 billion today and projects that number will grow tenfold by 2025. Without better security it’s all potentially vulnerable, and automakers are remaining mum or downplaying the issue.”

Should we worry about whole highways of traffic being hijacked and run off bridges? Not yet. Right now it looks like vehicle software can only be cracked by physically connecting a laptop to the car, although there are some who won’t agree
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