The computer that runs your car may be the next target hit by hackers, says anti-virus software maker McAfee.
In a newly released report, entitled “Caution: Malware Ahead,” the anti-virus giant said that, as cars have become more reliant on computer technology, like microchips and sensors, to get us safely down the road, so too have they become more vulnerable to attacks from malicious coders.
“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.
While having your personal computer hacked might ruin your life in any number of horrifying ways, McClure warns that “having your car hacked could translate to dire risks to your personal safety.”
In other words, hackers currently have the ability to take over everything from air bags and cruise control to the door locks and even power seats, in some vehicles. Other risks include the ability to track a person through their on-board GPS and steal personal information through their BlueTooth connections.
At this year’s Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, for instance, security consultants with iSEC Partners demonstrated their ability to remotely lock and unlock a car, as well as start it, by communicating with the car’s computer system using only text messages.
Part of the problem, says McAfee, is that protections against such attacks are lagging behind the hackers ability to come up with new tactics, as car makers scurry to pack their autos with the newest technologies.
“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,” McAfee wrote in the report. “However, in the rush to add features, security has often been an afterthought.”
All we can say is, Google’s self-driving, 100 percent computer-controlled, cars seem like an even worse idea, now.