PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Imagine driving down the road and all of a sudden you no longer have control of your car, it’s actually being driven by someone else.
It may be unlikely, but not that farfetched.
And the whiz kids who’ve proven it can be done say the car companies need to wake up and build in some protection.
What Bond – James Bond – did in the back seat of a Mercedes in “Tomorrow Never Dies,” driving a car with a computer, is what Chris Valasek duplicated in real life in the back of a Toyota Prius, sort of.
“We can control things like steering, braking, acceleration, headlamps, windshield wipers, door locks,” he said.
Valasek dissected the Prius like a frog in a high school biology class.
He describes it having features like a Bluetooth CD player, millimeter wave sensor, parking assist and a computer that can steer the car.
By duplicating them, Valasek figured out how to duplicate the messages they send.
“They are all linked together and they all communicate together,” he said.
And with no security.
“Right now, it thinks it’s going 20 miles an hour and you can do all this stuff outside the car and inside the car as well,” Valasek said.
The first experiments connected into the car’s control through the mechanics diagnostic port, but the guys are on the brink of going wireless remote control.
And other researchers have been able to infiltrate cars through Bluetooth and GPS.
And it’s all been done.
“All that’s true, and some guys are fantastic, because they are fighting the good fight on the good guys’ side,” said FBI Special Agent Timothy Hearl.
Because if the bad guys get a hold of this, they can control a lot.
“They can disengage the brakes, apply the brakes, accelerate, decelerate, steer really anything that’s done on that computer network to control the automobile can be done by an attacker,” Valasek said.
So far, there hasn’t been any response from car companies.
“It’s just a matter of taking security into consideration when designing these things,” Valasek said.
Hearl added, “It’s a scary thought. I’m sure in the near future we’ll see fixes for that and increased security functions.”
But the FBI and Valasek agree this is only the tip of the hacking.
“You can eavesdrop, you can probably access the GPS and see where they have been and where they are going,” Valasek said. “I think most people program home in there, right, so you can figure out where they live.”
Valasek says the chances of someone hacking your car are slim – for now.
“Nothing really from a hacker’s mindset is impossible, it’s just: how hard is it?” Valasek said.