Friday, March 18, 2011

TIME pulls story: MP3-trojan car-takeover

Ever wonder what would happen if TIME Magazine's online Techland service did a story how an MP3 Trojan could take over your car? What if the automobile advertisers—the same ones who spend hundreds of millions of dollars advertising with you—told them to pull the story or lose the ad revenue? This may be what happened yesterday. I got the Techland feed saying:

Yes, a Trojan MP3 Can Let Hackers Seize Control of Your Car
Guest Author | March 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm | The Battlestar Galactica had no networked computers for the simple reason that they might allow the Cylons to take control of the ship. You might want to think about that next time you pop in a burned CD into your car’s stereo system. Computer security researchers at UC San Diego and the University of Washington [...]Read more of this post
Of course, if you click on the above links to read more of the story, the Techland site claims it can't find it. My guess: GM or Ford or all of the above got on their Bat Phones in one giant hurry and gave Time, Inc. an ultimatum. Unfortunately for the car guys, the Internet train has already left the station. Once something is on the Web, well, you can find it.

Want to see the whole story? Go to the original story in Mobile Magazine (until at least the car companies get to them).  Just in case their story also gets spiked, here's the body copy:

We always knew this day would come. And now, it’s been proven: Cars are susceptible to malware.
 Teams at the UCSD and the University of Washington have managed to hack into an unspecified 2009 vehicle using a trojan virus hidden in an Mp3 disc inserted into the audio deck. The virus allegedly altered the car stereo’s firmware creating an entry point to other components of the vehicle.
The researchers were then able to gather information such as GPS data and the Vehicle Identification Number – and were even able to control the locks, brakes and engine remotely. 
The hack isn’t likely to be taken advantage of on a large scale given that different models of stereos and cars have specialized firmware. 
But the implications are huge: Now that people know it can be done, I’ll be surprised if they don’t do it. 
[via Boing Boing]
Certainly the latest automobile ads showing a father starting his daughter's car from a smart phone application hasn't escaped the jihadists of the world who're probably thinking,  "Yowzer, wouldn't it be cool to launch a cyber attack on all the latest automobiles driven by infidel citizens of The Great Satan?" It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up.

Update on May 20, 2011: Finally this is listed as one of the six big cyber security threats in yesterday's Computerworld story. Threat #5 is "Hackers controlling your car."

1 comment:

  1. I saw this story on the news. It's amazing what hackers can do with even small bits of data such as MP3. Not that I support them or anything.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?