Friday, October 14, 2011

Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal

Researchers have discovered that today’s vehicle computers are reasonably susceptible to hacker attacks. Without any special knowledge about the cars, researchers were able to take control of the door locks, disable the brakes and even stop its engine, among other things.

This is thanks to cars’ increasing dependency on computers to perform basic functions. Computer can now do everything from wipe the windshield to maintain tire pressure. Researchers say the typical luxury sedan just rolling off the assembly line has about 100 megabytes of code to control 50 to 70 computers inside the car. Some luxury cars have 100 million lines of software code, compared to only 1.7 million lines on a U.S. Air Force jet fighter.

Using homemade hacking software they dubbed "CarShark," Washington-San Diego researchers in lab and road tests "demonstrate the ability to adversarially control a wide range of automotive functions and completely ignore driver input – including disabling the brakes, selectively braking individual wheels on demand, stopping the engine, and so on," the researchers wrote.

Wonderful. So car hacking could turn into car jacking in the wrong hands. Picture being inside your car at an intersection someday and Mr. Thug standing next to your car can turn off your engine and unlock your doors. You are not in control - Mr. Thug and Mr. Computer are.

“Open the pod bay doors please, Hal.”
“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”


james said...


New meaning to "Blue Screen of Death?"

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Let me make this worse.

Insulin pumps.


Retriever said...

Just imagine the entrepreneurial possibilities. One could advertise complete hacker blocking kits (to shield computers or disrupt external signals to the car--of course these would mess up Soccer Mom's iPHone as she is messaging while driving). Or software to load onto your car to protect against hackers (like on your PC). Or "Hal" like recognition of unusual commands form outside that would ask you permission to obey such commands...(ie: "are you SURE you want to open the doors at an intersection in the middle of a drug neighborhood?"

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

Retriever - You raise some interesting consequences with the hacking blocker ideas. I'm already constantly cheesed at nanny Microsoft everytime one of those stupid pop-up windows asks me if I REALLY want delete that file (or whatever). I can imagine my blood boiling over when my new upscale car keeps me standing in January's driving sleet and slush because it can't recognize my voice through my chest cold. Brave new world indeed.

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