Modern computer systems make cars a prime target for hackers: report

Tech-savvy crooks could take advantage of a new target that's ripe for the hacking: your car, a study released Wednesday by security software provider McAfee revealed.

The same technology that makes operating a car almost like playing a video game - like systems that allow for remote starting or for doors to be unlocked with the push of a cell phone button - also puts a ride at a greater risk of being hacked, the report says.

By tapping into the increasingly sophisticated systems, malicious tech whizzes can track a car's location and steal control of the vehicle - theoretically taking the driver's safety out of their hands, the report says.
Hackers could even gain access to a driver's highly sensitive personal info if computerized devices - like smartphones or tablets - are linked to a car's embedded systems.

The report says the must-have computerized devices may be a Catch-22.

"The ever-growing number of embedded systems and integrated communications in modern automobiles have provided the convenience and personalization that consumers crave," it says.

"But 10 years from now, will these same systems continue to hold consumer confidence, or will they quickly become another avenue for malware and breach of privacy data?"

The report highlights cases where scientists and security experts hacked into a car's remote disabling system using only a standard laptop and software called "CarShark."

The same group also managed to steal personal information through a Bluetooth connection.

According to McAfee's report, there's been no known serious hacking of an automotive system thus far, but it notes the case of a disgruntled car dealership employee who disabled 100 cars by tinkering with their security systems.

The increased vulnerability of cars to techie attacks has the automotive industry on edge.

Dan Flores, a spokesman for General Motors, told Fox News the auto giant considers vehicle security "a top priority."

"We are focused on equipping our vehicles with both the features and security protections our customers want and need," he said.

Chrysler tries to fend off potential hack attacks by regularly updating its software and continuing to search for glitches that could give hackers access to the systems.

Still, nothing is foolproof, engineering communications manager Vince Munija told Fox News.

"If someone spends eight months trying to unlock the doors, they probably can, but we try to make the firewalls as bulletproof as possible," Munija said.


My Review: Bait car cases dismissed in San Francisco

As an avid watcher of the Bait Car program, I have no doubt in my mind each person who drives off with that car has criminal intent. At the end of the day, each culprit broke the law. Only in California can someone get away with a deed like that. I would be interested to know why half of the cases we dismissed? Lack of evidence? Apparently the production company of Bait Car refused to hand over the video footage of the incidents, footage that could be potentially used for evidence.
Entrapment is another defense that could be used, especially if the judge ruled that the culprits were simply "joyriding"
It all boils down to the fact that the show was set up for entertainment purposes, to show on TV and to make money off of it. Producers wanted a good product and they got one, regardless of whether or not the subjects end up going to jail. How much could the show producers care? They got their footage and laughed all the way to the bank.
The losers are the taxpayers, where all the city's resources involved in setting up this operation were squandered for busting half a dozen culprits.
Maybe the moral of the story is not to trust a unattended vehicle. Hopefully the show serves as a deterrent. I am planning on starting some blog posts on keeping your vehicle safe and secured. Stay tuned.