If you had to drive a Prius you’d be hacked off too

Toyota Prius

This story is more than a little disturbing. You think of big multi-national banks getting hacked. You think of your computer picking up a dodgy virus. But how many of us have ever thought about our cars being hacked?

Andy Greenberg from Forbes recently met up with a couple of geeks to show us what it’s like to drive a car that wasn’t really in his command:

As I drove their vehicles for more than an hour, Miller and Valasek showed that they’ve reverse-engineered enough of the software of the Escape and the Toyota Prius (both the 2010 model) to demonstrate a range of nasty surprises: everything from annoyances like uncontrollably blasting the horn to serious hazards like slamming on the Prius’ brakes at high speeds. They sent commands from their laptops that killed power steering, spoofed the GPS and made pathological liars out of speedometers and odometers. Finally they directed me out to a country road, where Valasek showed that he could violently jerk the Prius’ steering at any speed, threatening to send us into a cornfield or a head-on collision.

The only saving grace, at this stage, is the hackers have to be in the car with you, with a cable connected to the car’s main ECU in order to get that level of control. However, in a test done back in 2010 remote access was gained to an unnamed make of car through its cellular connection and Bluetooth function. Scary, hey!

It was also interesting to read that Toyota already tests their cars to ensure they’re not vulnerable to a wireless attack. Maybe they, and all manufacturers, might need to up the ante?

[Source: Forbes | Thanks to Aaron for the tip]