LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The growing prominence of cars controlled by dozens of computers — and the ability to manipulate some with the touch of a smartphone — is leading researchers to question their vulnerability.
The circumstances surrounding the June death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings in Hollywood prompted former U.S. Coordinator for Security and Counter-Terrorism Richard Clarke to suggest that “what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber-attack.”
Despite the crash being classified as an accident by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Department of Defense has acknowledged the Pentagon has explored remotely controlling cars by computer hacking.
And a counter-terrorism expert now tells CBS2 News we may never know what really happened in the fiery single-car crash in that killed Hastings.
Chris Calisek hacks computers for a living to expose security issues.
“You could remotely wreck someone or remotely stop the car,” he told CBS2’s Serene Branson.
Liam O’Murchu is a computer expert at Symantec Security Software in Culver City.
He’s followed research at schools like Rutgers, where they’re looking at the dangers of motor car manipulation, especially from a mobile device hacking into a car app.
“They do this by getting onto the on-board computer, the on-board diagnostics systems, and they’re able to reprogram it to do pretty much whatever they want,” O’Murchu explained.
“When you add more technology you are opening the attack surface and that’s what attackers are looking for,” he said.
Now experts are urging car makers to step on it to stay ahead of car hackers.
Branson reports the U.S. Department of Transportation is working with car manufacturers like GM and others to improve security measures.