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The truth is, the more connected and complicated a car is the more vulnerable it becomes to hacker attacks. Cars are part of the IoT paradigm. When home thermostats are under attack, car dealers, owners and manufacturers should be prepared for cyber attacks on cars.

Wired.com had a story about how a Jeep Cherokee got breached and hacked with the help of a phone connected to the car’s navigation and entertainment equipment. Cyber security researchers managed to get full control of car’s brakes and steering when it was moving on a road. That time it was a proof of concept and experiment aimed at demonstrating security flaws in connected cars. The vulnerability was fixed, and Chrysler recalled 1.4 million automobiles. 

How about starting keyless-entry cars? The bandit may get in by smashing the window or by breaking the vehicle door lock with a tailor-made screwdriver. Then he uses a tool that is available for sale on the web for $31 that may copy signals of the main key. The criminal plugs this gadget into the car’s diagnostic port. The data obtained is utilized to reprogram a blank fob that will start the car.

To address all these issues, car manufacturers are making their efforts to design keys that will transmit harder to copy signals. Computer security professionals stress that cars require a lot more layers of defense, for example, encrypted communication between them and keys or the Internet.

The Jeep case already mentioned was possible because the infotainment system got compromised. In other situations, cybercrooks may spoof the GPS signals that come from satellites and modify directions helping you to get lost on unfamiliar roads. Hackers may do it just for fun, laughing and watching the traffic jams they create. Think about what terrorists might do.

Cyber-attacks will be easier to launch as automobiles are quickly evolving into becoming driverless. Car owners should be informed about possible consequences of these hacks.

With big money at stake, it’s just a matter of time before cyber crooks start hacking vehicles on a commercial scale. Cars are already stuffed with numerous vulnerabilities. In current IoT era, not only cars but buses and special industrial machines face the same risk. The whole transportation industry may become the target of cyber-attacks.

Ransomware viruses like Thor are the biggest online threat today. Cyber criminals attack homes users, businesses and even police departments and hospitals with crypto-viruses. They lock valuable files and demand ransomware in exchange of the decryption key.

With vulnerable, connected cars, criminals may monetize their hacking effort in similar way, blackmailing Government authorities, businesses and private drivers. Criminals may demand ransom for giving back cars' controls and threatening to initiate road incidents or mass destructions. The potentials are restricted only by their creativity.  

Several tip to protect your car from hackers 

  • Visit your car dealer and update all software.
  • In case your car has any Internet connection functions, Google for its make, model and year with keywords like "hacked” or similar.
  • Monitor your mail for messages from the dealership on possible vulnerabilities.
  • Visit manufacturer’s website to seek info on any existing threats and if any car patches are available.
  • Some car makers have special portals where you can download car software updates by entering your vehicle VIN.
  • Modern cars have ECUs: electronic control units. Custom-made security tools can identify and stop cyber intrusions. For example, Carwall is like a firewall for car ECU. It detects signals or software that are not unauthorized to load or run.
  • Don’t change your vehicle’s software. Car tuning and modifications may influence the security logic and procedures preprogrammed in car brains and create security holes.
  • Be cautious about linking up third-party gadgets. Things like car tracking tools that connect to the car computer introduce more risks. They may have vulnerabilities that hackers will exploit to get through them into your car computers remotely. 

Views: 69

Tags: IoT, cars, connected, cyber-security, ransomware

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