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August 30, 2012

Your Vehicle Is In Danger of Being Hacked by Computer Viruses

Computers and electronic communication systems that are installed in today's modern vehicles have the hazard of being hacked. Intel's McAfee, one of the best known software companies that fight PC viruses, is currently working to protect these computer and communication systems so that viruses can not affect your modern vehicle.

Automakers have failed to adequately protect these systems, leaving them vulnerable to hacks by attackers looking to steal cars, eavesdrop on personal conversations and even harm passengers by causing vehicles to crash automatically.

According to the SAE International, no violent attacks using computer viruses have been reported to date.

These viruses, worms and Trojans can be delivered to your automobile through onboard diagnostics systems, wireless connections and even tainted CDs played on radio systems.

The concern for automobile computers and electronic communication systems being hacked came from research conducted by a group of computer scientists from the University of California and the University of Washington, who published two research papers, in May and August of 2011, showing that computer viruses can infect cars and cause them to crash, harming both the driver and passengers. This group of computer scientists figured out how to attack vehicles by putting viruses onto compact discs. When victims try to listen to the CD, the vehicle is infected through the car radio and can make its way across the network and other vehicle systems. One of their examples is an attack called "Self Destruct". This is when a 60 second timer pops up on a car's digital dashboard and starts counting down. When it reaches zero the virus can immediately shut off the vehicle's lights, lock its doors, turn the engine off and release or slam on the brakes.

Therefore; the SAE's Vehicle Electrical System Security Committee, a committee of more than 40 industry experts, is working hard to develop specifications which would reduce the risk of vehicles being infected with viruses.