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What I plan to do: provide some commentary on interesting news items, as often as possible. Most will be news about technology, major scientific breakthroughs, or political issues from all around the world.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Just how secure is your car?

Do you have on on-board computer in your car? Of course you do!
And is it secure? Of course it's not!
What can I do with it? Anything, of course!

Recently, a report (PDF) came to light by researchers from University of California San Diego and the University of Washington that the security on the on-board networks of cars is absolutely dismal.

While it may not look much, as it requires physical access to the vehicle, it does present some questions: notably the next time you bring your car in for its regular checkup, could someone plant a piece of code in there to take over the system in an instant? After all, all it requires is a connection to the diagnostics port in your car, and you wouldn't look twice what that tech is doing with his laptop. Guess what, he just killed you in ten minutes, by disabling the brakes with a time delay. And the code will erase itself from the ECU, so nobody will ever know.

How much longer until we start hearing that terrorist leaders or other persons the secret services of the world want dead start having mysterious traffic accidents? And how much longer until our cars become fully networked, and terrorists/crackers start to mess with them on the highway? Because then the only thing that will be needed is a simple transmitter, and a parked car on a flyover or in a roadside cafe to cause one hell of a traffic jam and chaos with a massive brake-engaging or engine-killing.

The problem with this is not what it is now, but what it can become in the future. It's not easy t pull off something like this, but with enough motivation and knowledge, it can be done very quickly. And rest assured, there are already people who have both. Method, Motive, Opportunity: they have two. How much longer until the third piece falls into place?

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