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Friday, October 14, 2011

What Computer Hackers Can Do To Your Car

(notladj/Flickr)

(notladj/Flickr)

There’s a new target for hackers — cars and trucks. And there’s not a lot drivers can do about it yet.

Most vehicles have computerized systems for everything from tire pressure monitors to hands-free phone capabilities.

Bloomberg News reporter Craig Trudell says that the computers are vulnerable to hackers, who can do a lot of damage, for example they can:

  • Disable the brakes or engine independent of the driver
  • Shut off the air conditioning
  • Use a method called “fuzzing” to play malicious messages over the system that diagnoses problems with your car
  • Unlock a car remotely and start the engine

Trudell says that because many of the computer systems in cars are there because of legal mandates “You really don’t have a choice. Your on-board [computerized] diagnostic system is required.”

But the auto industry and federal government are looking into how to prevent hacking. “The good news is that the Department of Transportation is soliciting information on ways to correct this and to protect drivers,” Trudell said.

Guest:

  • Craig Trudell, Bloomberg News reporter

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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