Can people hijack your car and take control of it?
That’s according to former National Security superstar Richard Clarke. Now a cyberwar expert and consultant, Clarke almost matter-of-factly told the Huffington Post that most intelligence services can hack the computer on a late model car, take control and, in effect, assassinate the driver with their own vehicle:
Clarke said, “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers” — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car.
“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke told The Huffington Post. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard.”
“So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was,” Clarke added, “I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”
So, while we were all haggling over the ominous threat posed by domestically-deployed drones, that emerging menace suddenly pales in comparison to the immediate and real danger facing just about anyone who bought a car over the last fifteen years. And if you were an “early adopter” and GM enthusiast, you could’ve purchased an OnStar-ready vehicle as far back as 1996.
Since then, the integration of cars, computers, Bluetooth, mobile phone and satellite tracking (GPS) technologies have accelerated at a heady pace. One simple OnStar feature, for example, is “Stolen Vehicle Slowdown” which allows a remote operator to decelerate a vehicle.
It doesn’t take much to extrapolate, as Clarke did, what might happen to a hacked car driven by a high-value target. Really, with the difficulty in tracing an attack after the car, computers and driver have been “compromised” by a raging inferno, even not-so-high value targets that previously might have escaped retribution are now, thanks to technology, easy prey that might be too tempting to pass up.
Which is why it might be a good idea for muckraking investigative journalists to trade in their Bluetooth-ready Audis for some retro wheels…