McAfee warns of hacker threat to autos

Cars made smarter with Internet technology are zooming into perilous hacker territory, according to a report by US computer security giant McAfee.

The first-of-its-kind report, entitled "Caution: Malware Ahead" and released late Tuesday, warned that security is lagging as vehicles are enhanced with embedded chips and sensors for a growing array of purposes.

"As more and more functions get embedded in the digital technology of automobiles, the threat of attack and malicious manipulation increases," said McAfee senior vice president and general manager Stuart McClure.

"It's one thing to have your email or laptop compromised, but having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety," he added.

Chips are embedded in almost all parts of cars from airbags, brakes, and power seats to cruise controls, anti-theft gadgets, and communications systems, according to McClure.

Researchers have demonstrated that computers controlling functions in automobiles can be hacked if attackers get into vehicles and, in some cases, from afar.

A security consultant with iSEC Partners showed peers at a recent Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas that it is possible to unlock or start cars by sending commands in the form of text messages from smartphones.

Sensors used by roadside emergency services to find cars or by car owners to make sure vehicles are being driven safely, can give cyber stalkers ways to track someone's movements, according to the report.

Hackers could disrupt car navigation systems, steal personal data through Bluetooth connections, or disable vehicles remotely, the findings indicated.

"The automobile industry is continually adding features and technologies that deliver new conveniences such as Internet access and the ability to further personalize the driving experience," the report said.

"However, in the rush to add features, security has often been an afterthought," it said.

There were no indications that hackers have yet taken advantage of computer vulnerabilities in cars, according to McAfee.

McAfee and smart gadget software specialty firm Wind River, both owned by US chip colossus Intel, collaborated with embedded device security firm ESCRYPT on the study.

"As the trend for ubiquitous connectivity grows, so does the potential for security vulnerabilities," said Wind River senior director for automotive solutions Georg Doll.

"The report highlights very real security concerns, and many in the auto industry are already actively designing solutions to address them," Doll added.

Researchers cited industry projections that the number of Internet connected devices will climb to 50 billion in the year 2020 from a billion last year.

The bulk of those gadgets are expected to be embedded devices such as airport ticket kiosks, cash registers, key card readers, and controls for factory machinery.

"Today, we're seeing bold new experiments, including Google's auto-piloted cars and smart roads with sensors that report on traffic conditions and vehicle speeds," the report said.

"Experiments like these show the ongoing possibilities... But there is a concern that as the industry advances, there has been little done to ensure the security of these systems."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee