From Hacker To Car Jacker: How Smart Cars Enable Smart Criminals

Posted Posted by AAMCO Colorado in Blog     Comments No comments
Aug
11

Smart Car Theft - AAMCO Colorado

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. –Albert Einstein

Einstein, contrary to what he himself may have believed, was indeed smart. But perhaps what he missed in his quote was that beyond being able to stay with his problems, he was actually able to first recognize their existence.

As vehicles become “smarter”, everybody hails the advancements as exciting and fun. Some even go as far as to coin it revolutionary, as is often common nowadays, but countless people wait anxiously for autonomous vehicles to make their public debut.

Many are hardly able to wait today for the technological advancements of tomorrow… Should we hope for such hasty advancements? Is there nothing we’re not considering fully? Is there a problem here we’re not noticing?

The answer is sadly, and surprisingly, yes. There are countless problems that have yet to be considered or even recognized, one that has both consumers and auto manufacturers most concerned is the fact that as cars get smarter, there are newer and far more clever ways for thieves to be mischievous.

You will soon no longer need a crowbar and screwdriver to break into and steal a car. All you’ll need is a laptop and quick access to the computer plugins in the vehicle under the hood or dashboard, at which point, the car can almost be left alone until the time is right to steal it whenever and wherever desired. It’s quite a new concept and one which has people a little concerned.

Below are a few of the various ways a car hacker can figuratively break into your car to steal whatever desired. Rest assured, these things are already being done today, save for the self-driving and autonomous vehicle bit. But once that takes place, cops are going to have an extremely difficult time… police chases with no one driving the suspect vehicle. Makes you wonder if it’s even worth the chase at that point.

There’s not really anyone getting away any more. But I digress, and without further ado, here are a few of the smarter ways car thieves are scoring big, or in the least, having a hearty laugh.

Everything a Vehicle’s Internal Computer Can Currently Control

Windows

Of course, this only matters if you have automatic windows. If you’re still hand cranking your windows shut, you need not have a worry over this. But remember that anything electric or automated nowadays is controlled by a computer, even your windows. Granted, if your vehicle was broken into, they’re probably not worried over hot wiring your windows. With that said, it’s still possible to open them later when it’s more useful.

Radio/MP3/CD

Again, not something that would be much of a concern but a criminal could be clever and perhaps use the audio system of another vehicle to distract and keep attention away from a different vehicle. Or perhaps use it to deafen the driver to make them pull over or even stop using their car for a few days as they may believe something is broken. Point is, people will become a little baffled once their radio goes ghost on them, playing random tunes at ear shattering volume levels. Again, a clever criminal could find a use for this.

Check Engine Lights

You can image that compared to windows and the radio, a criminal could come up with a few good reasons to hack into a vehicle’s check engine light system. Nowadays, sensors know more than simply your vehicle’s engine temperature, they know your tire pressure from the monitoring system, your levels of gas and oil, and a whole slew of other things.

Start Engine Button

You can easily imagine that if a vehicle can be started with the push of a button, it can certainly be turned off as well. It doesn’t take long to realize the benefit a criminal would have if this were possible.

Braking & Accelerating

Computers in many of the newer vehicles being produced can recognize if you are about to get into an accident and will automatically brake for you. Computers also can regulate your acceleration, and many vehicles have computers in place to reduce your overall top speed to help avoid speeding too fast. If a computer can stop your car and make it go faster, it wouldn’t take long for a hacker to do the same given a moment’s access to your vehicle.

Steering

Finally, there’s the one thing that has always been done by the hands of man, and that is steering. But with advancements in autonomous and self-driving vehicles, we’ve begun to give cars the ability to drive themselves. Which means that if a hacker wanted to steal a car, that can be accomplished without ever actually having to drive the vehicle. They can simply log in and drive the vehicle wherever they please. In fact, they wouldn’t even need to drive it, the car could drive itself! They would simply have to tell it where to go, which means that in the future, fewer people would be jacking cars as is done nowadays. More of them would be car hacking.

Read more about Autonomous Vehicles and Their Ethical Implications or how Car Thieves Steal More Than Parked Cars Nowadays.

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