Imagine driving down the highway when suddenly, your speedometer surges, your brakes fail and your steering wheel seemingly takes on a mind of its own. While it sounds like the stuff of a sci-fi thriller, government officials say it’s all too real a possibility.
With funding from the Pentagon and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the research arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, two noted hackers are showing the feds just how easy it might be for terrorists, organized crime figures or super savvy pranksters to take control of your automobile.
Experimenting on a 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Ford Escape, the hackers showed that while they cannot fully control the vehicles remotely, they can take control of multiple operational features. For instance, they were able to get the car’s speedometer to read 199 mph while the car was sitting still; disable the brakes; can control the steering; and convince the car, while it was going 80 mph, that it wasn’t going anywhere and to try to park itself.
Results of the study will be presented at Def Con 21, the hackers’ conference, in Las Vegas in August. But experts say one thing is for sure – auto owners can expect to see virus protection features offered for car computer systems in the future.
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