Skip to main content

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.”

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Hard
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Andrew first started writing in middle school and hasn't put the pen down since. Whether it's technology, music, sports, or…
There’s a huge Black Friday sale on Thule roof cargo boxes
thule rooftop cargo boxes deals amazon november 2023 box on car

It's almost winter, which means snowy day trips and skiing, and if you pack your whole family inside one vehicle, it can be difficult to get the rest of your critical belongings (such as bikes and kayaks) to your destination. In theory, you could buy a larger car. Many families get a minivan for the explicit purpose of relieving this kind of pressure. But that's pretty extreme when you could simply expand the storage space of your current car. And with Black Friday sales like this one, putting dozens of Thule rooftop cargo boxes on big discounts, now is a good time to consider doing so. We're seeing deals were you could save $100 (or even more) or Thule rooftop cargo boxes and accessories. Just tap the button below to access the curated collection, then keep reading for our take in how to shop the sale.

Why you should shop the Thule rooftop cargo box sale
One of the first things we want you to know before you shop the Thule collection is some features that aren't immediately apparent just by looking at the cargo boxes. For example, you may be highly concerned about driving off and having your belongings (including embarrassing items like underwear) go everywhere because the box flies open. Thule boxes, however, typically snap shut with an audible click. You know your items are secure. Alternatively, items like their

Read more
Honda recalls more than 300,000 vehicles over seat belt safety issue
2015 Honda Accord Sport

Honda has recalled more than 300,000 of its 2023-2024 HR-Vs and Accords over a safety issue, according to a document posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The issue concerns a missing seat belt part, which means that in the event of a crash, the belt “will not properly restrain the occupant, increasing the risk of injury,” the NHTSA said.

Read more
How to watch Tesla’s Cybertruck delivery event today
Tesla's Cybertruck.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Cybertruck. Tesla

It’s been a long time coming, but Tesla is about to deliver the Cybertruck to its first customers.

Read more