Experts: Vehicle systems can be hacked

March 16, 2011 at 7:39 PM
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SAN DIEGO, March 16 (UPI) -- Computer systems in modern cars are susceptible to being hacked, allowing criminals to gain control of them remotely, U.S. security researchers say.

A team of security experts from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington have identified a variety of weak points through which hackers can gain access to a vehicle's computer system remotely, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.

In one test, cellphone hardware installed in luxury cars was attacked, allowing the team to inject malicious code into the car's electronic controls.

In theory, hackers could then sell the car to a thief, giving them its location and unlocking it remotely.

The team also managed to take control of a car using a malicious application on a smartphone paired with the car's Bluetooth system.

Another weak point identified was the stereo system, as researchers were able to show that software embedded in an MP3 file could install itself into the car's firmware, enabling similar exploits.

Previous research had revealed how automobile computer systems could also be hacked via the on-board diagnostics port, an access point typically used by dealers and repair businesses to download data on the vehicle's health.

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