Professors break into car computer systems, halt brakes

Two weeks ago the CEO of Freescale told TechEye just how many integrated circuits (ICs) there were in the most up to date motor cars. There can be as many as 650 ICs, believe it or not. Believe it.

The one pictured here does not have this problem because it was made before semiconductors and software became all pervasive things.

Of course there’s not just chips in there, because you can’t have semiconductors without software.

And now it appears that a body of academics has concluded that automotive systems can easily be attacked by hackers, if you know what you’re doing.

According to the BBC, the boffins from the University of California San Diego and the University of Washington easily broke into car computer systems – even managing to stop the brakes, stop the engine and pervert readings on instrumentation.

Cars are not just safe enough, said the researchers, who concentrated on electronic control units within cars.  They produced a piece of software called Car Shark that allowed them to access communication ports on vehicles.

Car control software is far from secure, according to the report from the BBC.

They’re suggesting that similar attacks could be conducted against even fridges and pacemakers, according to the BBC report.

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