Tech-savvy crooks could take advantage of a new target that’s ripe for the hacking: your car, a study released Wednesday by security software provider McAfee revealed.
The same technology that makes operating a car almost like playing a video game – like systems that allow for remote starting or for doors to be unlocked with the push of a cell phone button – also puts a ride at a greater risk of being hacked, the report says.
By tapping into the increasingly sophisticated systems, malicious tech whizzes can track a car’s location and steal control of the vehicle – theoretically taking the driver’s safety out of their hands, the report says.
Hackers could even gain access to a driver’s highly sensitive personal info if computerized devices – like smartphones or tablets – are linked to a car’s embedded systems.
The report says the must-have computerized devices may be a Catch-22.
“The ever-growing number of embedded systems and integrated communications in modern automobiles have provided the convenience and personalization that consumers crave,” it says.
“But 10 years from now, will these same systems continue to hold consumer confidence, or will they quickly become another avenue for malware and breach of privacy data?”
The report highlights cases where scientists and security experts hacked into a car’s remote disabling system using only a standard laptop and software called “CarShark.”
The same group also managed to steal personal information through a Bluetooth connection.
According to McAfee’s report, there’s been no known serious hacking of an automotive system thus far, but it notes the case of a disgruntled car dealership employee who disabled 100 cars by tinkering with their security systems.
The increased vulnerability of cars to techie attacks has the automotive industry on edge.
Dan Flores, a spokesman for General Motors, told Fox News the auto giant considers vehicle security “a top priority.”
“We are focused on equipping our vehicles with both the features and security protections our customers want and need,” he said.
Chrysler tries to fend off potential hack attacks by regularly updating its software and continuing to search for glitches that could give hackers access to the systems.
Still, nothing is foolproof, engineering communications manager Vince Munija told Fox News.
“If someone spends eight months trying to unlock the doors, they probably can, but we try to make the firewalls as bulletproof as possible,” Munija said