When a person talks about something being hacked, normally they would be referring to a personal computer or smartphone, yet security researchers from Spain have been experimenting with a new target; your car.
Javier Vazquez-Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera have been preparing a small electronic device that can leave your car’s computer system vulnerable to attack. They plan to exhibit the device at the Black Hat security convention, which will be held next month in Singapore.
About the size of an iPhone and built from common components that can be purchased from any local store, the device costs just $20 and as Vidal explains, “It can take five minutes or less to hook up and then walk away.”
The pair have been able to wire the CAN Hacking Tool in to four vehicles and depending on the type of car, it can wirelessly manipulate lights, set off alarms, control power and in some cases even activate the brakes. The plan is to develop the device further, fitting a GSM radio so that the vehicle’s systems can be controlled from any location.
To avoid letting this little device fall into the wrong hands, Vidal says that for now the source code will remain private. In demonstrating what it can do at Black Hat, the researchers hope to raise the awareness of automakers, showing that vehicles are at as much risk of hacking as any other computer system. “A car is a mini network,” Illera said. “And right now there’s no security implemented.”