Imagine a hacker taking control of your vehicle from miles away and causing a deadly West Palm Beach car crash. It sounds like a scene from a Hollywood movie, but according to computer scientists, it could happen.
Today's cars rely on computer technology. Computers control both optional features like entertainment systems and emergency assistance, and essential systems like brakes, locks, cruise control and steering. Those computers, just like the computer in your home, are vulnerable to attacks from hackers.
As of now there have been no reports of car takeovers by hackers, but in 2011, researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego were able to send commands to a car's electronic control unit by breaking through the security protecting the car's cellphone. The software they inserted allowed the researchers to remotely override the car's manual controls. The researchers described their experiment in a report to the National Academy of Sciences' Transportation Research Board.
The researchers described how computer hacking could lead to high-tech car thieves who can unlock a parked car, start its engine, and drive off without a key. But, they focused their talk on how the auto industry can prevent such crimes by spotting vulnerabilities and loopholes ahead of time.
Could car-hacking replace car-jacking? David Glatthorn, a car accident attorney in Palm Beach County, hopes not. Like the researchers, he hopes this study will increase awareness of how the auto industry can better protect passenger vehicles. What do you think?
David Glatthorn is a personal injury attorney in West Palm Beach and the author of The Florida Accident Workbook: Tools, Tips & Tactics to Resolve Your Injury Claim.