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Hackers can remotely disable your car's brakes, create sensationalist headlines

Tim Stevens
May 14, 2010
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We think you're going to be hearing a lot about this one over the next few days... or weeks. A team of researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California San Diego have determined that, with physical access to your car's ECU, a hacker could "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." For example, the team was able to connect a computer to a car's ODB-II port, access that computer wirelessly, and then disable the brakes in the first car while driving down the road in a separate vehicle. The conclusion is that these in-car systems have few if any safeguards in place and, with physical access, nearly anything is possible. The solution, of course, is to prevent physical access. So, if you see a hacker hanging around in your car looking all shady, or a laptop computer sitting in the footwell that totally wasn't there before, well, you know who to call.





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