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.

More Bait Car Cases Dismissed in San Francisco Court

A year after truTV's Bait Car rolled into town to catch San Franciscans on camera "stealing" vehicles, more than half of the resulting criminal cases have been dismissed, the public defender's office says.

We wrote a cover story on the police department's money-making gig with the reality TV channel earlier this year -- the show paid the cops more than $200,000 in overtime and gave the SFPD two fancy bait cars for its fleet in return for police staging the operation on camera. At that time, the cops told us they arrested 32 people.

While the show paints all of the culprits as real car thieves, the judicial system has come to a very different conclusion. First, the district attorney charged the defendants with joyriding charges -- which has a lower burden of proof than grand theft auto cases. To date, of the 18 cases handled by the Public Defender's Office, 11 have been dismissed, raising questions about the reality show's public safety payoff.
"It seems like an extraordinary waste of money for nothing," says Evan Budaj, an attorney at the Public Defender's Office who has worked on the cases. The cases, "are all getting dismissed or shuffled off for very little. The district attorney's spokeswoman said she'd call us with complete statistics on case dismissals as soon as she had them." (Some cases were handled by private defense attorneys, and one man represented himself at trial.) We'll update when we have more information.

SFPD told us that while they were doing the operation for a TV show, their ultimate goal was to catch car thieves. But Budaj argues that the show doesn't really care what happens to the alleged thieves when the cameras stop rolling. Rather, taxpayers end up footing the bill for the accused joyriders on trial.

"I heard it costs them $200 dollars to put a line on [the court's] calendar for a particular day, with the administrative costs and clerks," Budaj says. He noted that he handed a recent case where the defendant had 23 court dates, and then was dismissed. "I think the people's reluctance to bring these [cases] to trial just further shows it was about the money, the TV show, and the cars that were donated to the city."

Budaj says the most recent dismissals came after the district attorney handed over the production company's footage of the alleged joyriding incidents. Hollywood-based KKI Productions initially resisted turning over footage of the arrests, citing the Shield Law for reporters. But two San Francisco judges ruled that KKI had waived its right to the Shield Law in its contract with the city, which stated the company would hand over any footage requested by the district or city attorney.

Budaj speculates that the footage played into the district attorney's decision to dismiss the recent cases.

"I always knew that this whole practice was kind of shady, and I'd like to think the district attorney seeing these videos might have forced them to see what was really happening and see themselves that it was not entirely straightforward," he told us. "It wasn't about catching people doing something wrong -- It was about creating something wrong for people to do and watching them do it."


HPD Says: Please Help Us Find The Guys Who Stole Our Bait Car

The idea behind police bait cars is a sound one -- rig up a car that's just begging to be stolen, put it in a vulnerable spot and then wait for a thief to try his luck.

It doesn't always work, though. KHOU reports that HPD is asking for the public's assistance in locating two dudes who made off with a bait car outside Greenspoint Mall recently

"When the SUV was taken, investigators were notified electronically, but before they could get to the scene or log on to their tracking device, the men dumped the vehicle in an apartment complex," the station says.

Why are we reminded of this?

You know how to set up the bait car, you just don't know how to keep track of the bait car.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Houston Police Department Auto Theft Division at 713-308-3500.



Los Angeles authorities have arrested three men who allegedly stole a car featured on the reality TV show "Bait Car."
The car is rigged to record potential thieves using a hidden video camera and to trap them in the vehicle until officers can show up to arrest them.

Standard stuff right?

But on Aug. 8th there was a mechanical malfunction that allowed four men to steal the sedan at La Brea Avenue near 30th Street and drive off instead of getting trapped.


The vehicle is used by an auto-theft task force of the California Highway Patrol, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff, said LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith.
"Bait Car," which runs on cable network TruTV, films some of the task force's cases, but it's not clear whether crews were filming the day the car was stolen.
The car, which authorities would not describe because they didn't want to tip off future potential thieves, was recovered later that day.
Two men were arrested the day the car was stolen, but the other two were still being sought in the crime, police said. After almost a month, an officer with the LAPD Hollywood Division's Parole Impact team saw a bulletin containing a still photo from video of the theft and recognized a probationer known to frequent the area.
Within an hour, officers had collared the man, whose identity was not immediately released because the investigation is continuing.
In the last eight months, the Parole Impact Team has contacted some 400 parolees and arrested approximately 175 of them for parole violations, Smith said.


Bait Car of our National Parks!


Today we go to America the beautiful to nab our next bait car culprit.
Mount Rainier National Park to be exact.
However, our perps today aren't stealing any actual vehicles. (Guess hippies don't drive fly rides)

article to follow.
     TACOMA (CN) - Mount Rainier National Park rangers used a bait car loaded with electronic goodies and camping gear to catch thieves who have been stealing valuables from trailheads, federal prosecutors said.
     Rangers parked the car at a popular trail parking lot and the next morning a ranger on stakeout saw a couple drive up, smash its window and steal the stuff, according to the federal complaint.
     "The couple left the parking lot, and the ranger radioed his colleagues about the break-in. The couple was pulled over a short distance away. Not only did they have all the materials stolen from the bait car, they also possessed
credit cards, drivers' licenses, and a cell phone linked to other car prowls at trailheads in Mount Rainier National Park and Snoqualmie National Forest," prosecutors said in announcing the bust.
     The United States accused Jamie Davis Spain and his girlfriend Dawn Marie Gale of theft, theft of government property and malicious mischief.
     A ranger said in the federal complaint that there have been about 15 vehicle
 break-ins at Mt. Rainier National Park this month alone, "spread throughout the park." That's why they set up the sting.
     Rangers found stolen credit cards and two drivers licenses in Spain's shoe, according to the complaint. "When asked about the vehicle break-in, Gale stated, 'I knew it was wrong.' When asked if Spain forced her to participate, Gale responded that Spain 'does not force her to do anything,'" according to the complaint.
     Mt. Rainier Chief Ranger Chuck Young said in a statement that the arrests "will not necessarily end the problem of car burglaries in the park." He urged park visitors not to leave valuables in their car


More Bait Car!


Alright you wanna be public defenders and general standersby! 

It's time for me to review some more Bait Car and to see what lovely criminals we have in store.

Bait car stolen, Sacramento police nab 10-year-old girl
After a monitored bait car was stolen around 11:30 a.m. Friday, a Sacramento police officer saw someone driving the vehicle near Tamoshanter Way and Matson Drive.
The officer observed the driver, a 10-year-old girl, try to run away.
"It was a bad judgment call on her end," said Sgt. Andrew Pettit, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department.
The girl, who was not identified, was returned to her parents. ______________________________________________________________________________________
Now, I don't know about you guys....BUT
The first person that comes to my mind when I think of Bait Car perps....It's not a 10 YEAR OLD GIRL
I mean, shouldn't she be stealing at hot topic or pacsun or something like the normal girls her age?!?
Does she steal like this on the regular or was this a first time thing?
She was apprehended within 10 minutes....rookies....

When I was 10 I think my most scandalous piece of loot was a pokemon card.

Arcanine is really 350 lbs? Lay off the hot pockets there rover....

Speaking of Rovers... (great segue)

I want to see a Bait Car episode set in affluent suburbia. With a Range Rover, to see how many soccer moms it can lure in. THAT I would pay to watch.


March Madness

March Madness will soon be upon us. Who is your team?
I will be following Purdue, as they have a lot to prove.


Bait car

This is a show I came across the other day, and might just be my new favorite.
Bait Car.
The premise is, leave a high priced automobile unlocked, with the keys in the ignition and wait and see how long it takes before some crackhead jumps inside and starts driving. The camera crew rolls with Law enforcement as the make the pursuit, diasble the car and make their arrests! Some of the excuses these thieves have are hilarious.
Check out bait car on TruTv 8pm on mondays!


Noisy neighbors

For those of you who live in apartments/flats, how do you go about addressing a noisy neighbor? My culprit is directly above me, and probably was an extra on the movie 'stomp the yard'.
   Now, it wouldn't be as bad if the commotion occurred during the day, but it occurs at any hour of the day. Stomping, screaming, and crying. This girl has some issues, weird thing is I never hear a guy yelling. What are some good ways do deal with noisy neighbors?


Review-Tony Hawk Pro Skater-2 for iPhone

For those of you out there who own an iPhone or iTouch enjoyed the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series for console, this app is worth looking into.
THPS2 for iPhone features the same levels, play modes, special tricks, characters, and controls as the original. The only thing I find to be different is the soundtrack, (which if you could mod would be awesome).
The primary exclusions are the create-a-park and create-a-skater features.
A couple minutes on the game and I was sent back to those good ole days on the N64.
The controls take a little getting used to, trick combos get tough, especially without the tactile controls associated with real gaming controllers, but after a little adjusting its as if there's no difference at all.
The game, surprisingly taxes little on the battery supply, which is a plus. I find this app well worth the price and works great for curbing boredom or just killing a little extra time.

Price: 1.99 (originally $10)
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 2.2.1 or later
Happy skating!!


Tim Donaghy-Pro sports are fixed

The name Tim Donaghy seems inconspicuous enough, but in certain sports circles, it unsheaths a veil over the face of professional sports. Mr. Donaghy was an NBA referee sentenced to 15 months in prison for placing bets on games, some of which he even officiated.
Donaghy's track record of picking winners of games didn't go unnoticed, he was approached by the mafia in 2007 to assist in fixing games.
In addition to the charges on himself, he claimed other NBA referees to fix games for the 'best interest of the league', raising ticket sales and TV coverage, Such as in the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Kings.

Which leads me to my question? are pro sports fixed?
An ex-girlfriend of mine's father told me a story of when he was a traveling preacher in western Oklahoma. It was January 1994, the day before the super bowl. He was speaking with an owner of a thrift store when a man in a black car and black suit pulled up, and walked in. The store owner handed the man a large bag and the man in the suit left. Upon leaving the store owner explained. The man was with the mafia, and then wrote two numbers on the back of the receipt and handed it to the preacher.
The numbers were 30 and 13
The Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30 to 13 the next day in the super bowl.



Who else thinks this movie will be pretty good? I am a decent enough Bradley Cooper fan, (and hey, DeNiro's in it too) but the premise of the film is what intrigues me.
A guy who's made a mess of his life turns a complete 180 with the help of a pill. It's not all too unrealistic and the thought of unleashing your own potential to gain extreme wealth is a pretty cool idea.
March 18th premier date!

Freeganism- For or against?

For my new post today I'd like to explore and hear some input on one of the more taboo lifestyles out there.

Could you live the anti-consumerist life? For freegans, finding sustenance doesn't involve swinging by the drive thru, dining at a restaurant, getting pizza delivered, or going to the grocery store....well, going to the grocery store *sort of*
As a freegan, you main means would be from foraging, sharing, and gardening. While these methods would save alot of this the only motivation for Freegans?
By foraging, think dumpster diving. Think of all the wasted food products day in and day out at your local grocer, some of it still perfectly good. As a freegan this would be your main grub hub.
Gardens are cool. If you're into veggies and it's a good time of year, go for it.
If you think the only reasons for such a taboo lifestyle are fiscal, you'd be wrong. It stems from much deeper motivations, such as environmentalism, anti consumerism, and non conformity.
I for could never subscribe to dumpster diving for my meals, however, I do think it's wasteful the ways that bakeries, restaurants, Starbucks,etc all dump their 'near expiration date goodies' the day before. If there's some people out there willing to take it off these bussiness' hands, more power to them.

I'd like to hear some thoughts!


First Post

Welcome to my blog. As for my first post, I really want to get the word out about a really fascinating TV channel I've come across.

This channel frequently shows programs depicting life "behind the scenes" and often presents unique first person accounts about drugs, immigration, poverty, inner city police beats, swat teams, domestic abuse, etc. How far behind the scenes do they go? Well, to give you a picture, two of their journalists were imprisoned by North Korea.

The station I'm speaking of is CurrentTV
While some of you haven't heard of this little network, I'll fill you in with a history. CurrentTV is the brainchild of ex-presidential candidate Al Gore and business mogul John Hyatt. It's available on most major satellite/cable carries and is soon to be the new home for Keith Olbermann.

CurrentTV offers a plethora of shows in it's lineup, but the one that caught my eye from the start (and still does) is Vanguard. Vanguard is a no holds-barred documentary series that shines a light on some of the darkest topics the world has to offer. From beginning to end the journalists unearth incredible stories from otherwise unheard voices. You can check out whole episodes on their website.

I highly recommend checking it out for an evening or two. Here's the channel guide for the major networks (as per the CurrentTv website)

DIRECTV Channel 358 (Nationwide)

DISH Network Channel 196 (Nationwide)

Comcast Digital Channel 107 (Most cities)

Channel 125 (Dallas & Seattle)

Time Warner Digital Channel 103 (New York City)

Channel 142 (Los Angeles)

Select 'Time Warner' below
for other cities

AT&T U-Verse Channel 189 (Nationwide)