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Monday, 29 July 2013 12:31

Funding bugs in cars is more interesting

Written by Nick Farrell

Def Con hackers show how to own a car 

Hacking a computer is so old hat, apparently if you want fame and fortune you are better off hacking a car. Two computer software hackers who got bored finding bugs in Microsoft and Apple software thought it would be more interesting if they looked at hacking computers in cars.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek say they will publish detailed blueprints of techniques for attacking critical systems in the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape in a 100-page white paper. The paper follows several months of research they conducted with a grant from the US government. The pair are planning to release the software they built for hacking the cars at the Def Con hacking convention in Las Vegas this week.

Their paper shows ways to force a Toyota Prius to brake suddenly at 80 miles an hour, jerk its steering wheel, or accelerate the engine. Apparently they can disable the brakes of the poorly named Ford Escape traveling at very slow speeds, so that the car keeps moving no matter how hard the driver presses the pedal.

So far they have not come up with a way of remotely hacking the car, so you have to be sitting inside the vehicle of doom when you do this. But it shows that the hackers are close to getting there. The two say they hope the data they publish will encourage other white-hat hackers to uncover more security flaws in autos so they can be fixed.

Nick Farrell

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