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Modern Car Technology is a Target for Hackers

Automotive cybercrime is becoming more of a problem as the technology in vehicles makes its way toward completely autonomous. An in-car computer system controls things such as anti-lock breaking and skid-detection. If an in-car computer system is connected to the internet it’s just like any other computer. That makes it vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hackers have the ability to access a car’s in-car computer system remotely, from their laptops, and take control. Hitachi predicts that 90% of cars will be connected to the internet by 2020.

Academics and “white hat” hackers, people who hack into systems to determine vulnerabilities, recently hacked into a Jeep Cherokee and took control over its steering and breaks, exposing a dangerous vulnerability that made car makers sit up and take notice. Chrysler recalled more than 1.4 million vehicles to fix the problem.

Cars with electronic key fobs are also at risk. So far, the sale of key programming equipment has been largely unregulated. The thief breaks into the car and taps into the car’s diagnostic port, located under the steering wheel. That port contains information for the frequency that the fob transmits in order to open the car and operate it. The thief then programs a blank fob to have the same transmission and drives away in your BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Saab, or Land Rover.