Worried about cyber security? 14-year old hacks modern vehicle with just $15 in parts

Wireless vehicle hacking

With the continued advancement and proliferation of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, drivers are becoming increasingly concerned with electronic security.

Unfortunately, the following story won’t be much help in alleviating those anxieties.

According to a report by Autoblog, a 14-year old boy, who was part of the 2014 CyberAuto Challenge, was able to remotely hack into a car with nothing but a handful of parts from RadioShack and an iPhone. What’s worse is that he was able to crack the vehicle’s security systems in one day, with materials that cost just $15.

Like something out of the Watch Dogs video game, the boy in question (who has not been named) collected the parts and spent the night assembling a homemade circuit board. The next day, he was able to operate the vehicle’s wipers, lights, door locks, and even the remote start feature.

He even played a song from his phone through the car’s speakers, flashing the headlights to the beat in a clever taunt.

Though the steering, braking, and acceleration were not compromised, the authorities at CyberAuto were astonished. A five-day camp consisting of students, professional engineers, policymakers, and security specialists, the event claimed it would take experts months to crack the system at hand. For this youthful tech whiz, that was not the case.

“It was a pivot moment,” said Dr. Anuja Sonalker, program manager at Battelle, the nonprofit that created the CyberAuto Challenge. “For the automakers participating, they realized, ‘Huh, the barrier to entry was far lower than we thought.’ You don’t have to be an engineer. You can be a kid with $14.”

The make of car that was hacked has not been publicized yet, but Autoblog claims it was that of “a major automaker.”