Hackers only need a gateway to get connected to any device and that’s also true for cars which have systems that connect them to a cellular network. A research report from Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, shared with CNNMoney, explain similar findings. According to the report, if a car’s functions like the steering, brakes and tire pressure monitor are on the similar network as features that link the car to the Internet, the hackers can control any function remotely.
They could engage brakes and control features like adaptive cruise control and active lane assist.
The security researchers analyzed 20 different cars with a goal to persuade automakers to make necessary changes to provide consumers robustly secure cars. They found the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, 2015 Cadillac Escalade and 2014 Toyota Prius as most vulnerable vehicles, while the 2014 Dodge Viper and 2014 Audi A8 are least hackable as their wireless communications are not on the same network as their features.
To make things more clear, let me give you an example. Let’s say, a hacker connects with your car’s wi-fi network, he now can communicate with any system on this network. He can inject a virus to the car’s adaptive cruise control and disable it.
The claims made by the security researchers are still not verified by any automaker. Chrysler did appreciate Miller and Valasek and invited them to sit together and find the solutions. On the other hand, Cadillac has its reservations on this report as they find it based on publicly available data which does not tell much about car’s security features and electronic system.
The researchers didn’t remotely hack any car, so all the findings may not be true. However, one thing is for sure, the vulnerability is there and automakers must respond to offer non-hackable safety features to win the trust of customers.