While we may not be headed for a dystopian era where our automobiles are our overlords, forcing us to do their bidding or they'll crush us to death with their mega-ton bodies. It sort of sounds like a transformers meets Armageddon situation. While this scenario is very far-fetched and improbable, there are some equally terrifying things that people have and can do remotely to your car.
Researchers at the University of California recently exposed flaws in a car's braking system. They were able to hack in and manipulate the car while it was in motion. They were able to selectively brake the wheels, which allowed them to steer the car. Just to add even more fear and nail-biting suspense to the car hacks, it was noted that none of the driver's manual commands had any impact on the vehicle. This means that no matter how hard they slammed on the brakes, steered the wheel, or even tried to unlock the door, the car was an uncontrollable death trap.
Can We Stop It?
These growing auto threats will create a gaping need for protection from this potentially deadly malware. While malware-spawned identity theft costs us billions a year in losses, ruined credit and other awful financial consequences, auto-infecting malware could end up costing us limbs, and fear for our physical safety.
In the near future there will most likely have to be services that can help ensure malware doesn't infect your car. Similarly to how Lifelock manages to keep your identity and various machines safe, we might one day be finding ourselves in need of identity protection for our cars, or even any other smart machines.
A Step Further Than Identity Theft
The most foreboding aspect of the new auto-identity theft threat, is its untraceable nature. It's already bad enough to think about some neglected 17-year-old sitting in his mom's basement, hacking into an auto database and causing your horn to blare incessantly. It's, actually theoretically possible for a hacker to get into a car's computer system, control every aspect of it and force it into the side of a school bus or onto a recently frozen lake- while disabling the locks.
A similar study in Tokyo tested malware on cars, using “composite attacks that showed their ability to insert malicious software and then erase any evidence of tampering after a crash. This can all be done with no trace of the hackers ever being involved, as the interference can be as easily removed from the car's database, effectively rendering you solely responsible in the eyes of your insurance company and the law. The existence of companies like OnStar, make hacking into inter-auto-networks an increasingly accessible threat.