Is Technology Making Cars Easier to Steal?

Aug 17, 2011
TechnologyMore and more advanced technologies are making their way into new vehicles these days. We have GPS systems that tell us where to go, rear-view cameras to give us a better view, automatic locks and ignitions to save time and fumbling with our keys, and even sensors that detect an imminent collision and correct our driving automatically. With all of these technologies being integrated into our vehicles, it was only a matter of time before people started learning to exploit them.

At the Black Hat Conference, an annual Vegas-based gathering of hackers and security experts, two researchers revealed that they had been able to take over the systems in a Subaru outback and not only unlock the doors, but start the engine. Their tools? Only an Android smartphone and a custom program.

Vulnerabilities like this are a natural, if alarming, extension of the proliferation of technology in the automotive industry. And the auto industry isn’t the only group at the mercy of these hackers; government institutions and many corporations have suffered recent attacks from organized hacking groups. In automobiles, many systems operate on the same basic platform, allowing one-stop access to functions that allow thieves to make easy targets of high-tech cars.

 As you integrate technology into your fleet’s everyday operations, make sure you also look into ways of securing that technology. There will always be people looking to exploit new features, but careful operation and safety management will keep your fleet safe for years to come.

Photo courtesy of Riley Porter and re-used under the Creative Commons license.