Robocars won't be the future of the urban commute if it continues to be true that the more computerized a vehicle, the more hackable it is. Kelly Jackson Higgins reports.
If you drive a 2014 Jeep Cherokee, a 2014 Infiniti Q50, or a 2015 Escalade, your car not only has state-of-the-art network-connected functions and automated features, but it's also the most likely to get hacked.
That's what renowned researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek concluded in their newest study of vulnerabilities in modern automobiles, which they will present Wednesday at Black Hat USA in Las Vegas. The researchers focused on the potential for remote attacks, where a nefarious hacker could access the car's network from afar -- breaking into its wireless-enabled radio, for instance, and issuing commands to the car's steering or other automated driving feature.
The researchers studied in-depth the automated and networked functionality in modern vehicle models, analyzing how an attacker could potentially access a car's Bluetooth, telematics, or on-board phone app, for example, and then use that access to control the car's physical features, such as automated parking, steering, and braking. Some attacks would require the attacker to be within a few meters of the targeted car, but telematics-borne attacks could occur from much farther away, the researchers say.
Not surprisingly, the vehicles with fewer computerized and networked functions were less likely to get attacked by a hacker. "The most hackable cars had the most [computerized] features and were all on the same network and could all talk to each other," says Miller, who is a security engineer at Twitter. "The least hackable ones had [fewer] features, and [the features] were segmented, so the radio couldn't talk to the brakes," for example.
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