If you thought computer viruses were scary, you may want to stick around and finish reading this blog. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and FBI have warned hackers can take control of some modern vehicles.
Vehicles with extensive infotainment systems and wireless connections can be hacked remotely to control steering and other functions. Last year, researchers hired by Wired magazine took control of a Jeep and caused it to crash.
There are other ways vehicles with wireless connections could be hacked. Hackers could turn off your air conditioner in the middle of the summer, change your radio to a station that plays nothing but Backstreet Boys, control your blinkers, brakes and door locks. The range of features at risk for hacking are numerous.
How are hackers taking control of vehicles? Modern vehicles have wireless electronic control units that regulation functions, such as steering, the radio, locks and other features. Hackers can exploit these wireless electronic control units to take over vehicles.
How Are Automakers Responding to Vehicle Hacking?
Automakers affected by this bad news have sent consumers USB drives containing software fixes that can protect against hacks. However, FBI officials are warning consumers to verify the authenticity of these flash drives. Smart phones and tablets connected to vehicles through USB cables could also be used to gain access to electronic control units.
Fortunately, many cars still do not use these features, but the numbers of vehicles that do continues to grow every year. NHTSA could require auto manufacturers to ensure some electronic control units cannot connect online. In addition, software fixes may prevent vehicle hacking.
The FBI and NHTSA warning is a great example of how consumer safety could become more technological in the coming years.