For several years on-board computers have been instrumental in our cars. With each year passed, they become more powerful. Now, many manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot propose to connect their cars to take advantage of many internet services. Many of these proposals were unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The question is can the car, plugged in to internet, be stolen by hackers, who introduce viruses or even worse, take outright control of your car.
A consultant company iSEC Partners, specializing in security, recently demonstrated that one can open and even start a car with a simple text message sent from a smartphone. Anti-virus computer security companies are seriously worried about this. Last Tuesday, the antivirus software vendor McAfee said it is quite possible that cars, which have more and more chips can be very attractive to hackers. "As more and more functions get embedded in the digital technology of automobiles, the threat of attack and malicious manipulation increases," says Stuart McClure, senior vice president and general manager of McAfee. "Many examples of research-based hacks show the potential threats and depth of compromise that expose the consumer. It’s one thing to have your email or laptop compromised but having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety."
Hackers can even disrupt your car's navigation system and put the driver's life into danger.
Last March, researchers from the Universities of San Diego and Washington have shown they can create virus and put it into an MP3 file. They then burned a CD with that file. The CD was put into car's Audio system, which eventually modified the software's stereo system. It got an access to car's GPS data, its identification numbers and took control of the locking system. It went as far as breaking into the car's engine management system.
In its latest report, McAfee urgent the auto makers to accompany technological innovation with electronic security to ensure the inviolability of auto security systems.