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Can the Government Hack Into Your Car?

“The peculiar circumstances of journalist Michael Hastings’ death in Los Angeles last week have unleashed a wave of conspiracy theories.

Now there’s another theory to contribute to the paranoia: According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could’ve allowed someone to hack his car. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack.”*

There have been several theories about the fatal car crash that caused the death of esteemed journalist, Michael Hastings. Prominent security analyist Richard Clarke, the former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, is saying that the evidence we have on Michael Hastings crash is actually consistent with a cyber attack; it is possible his car was hacked. Clarke is not a conspiracy theory crackpot– his words should not be debunked as quackery. At the very least, the crash deserves much more investigation. If the allegations of car cyber attacks are even plausible, this is a truly terrifying development people the world over should care about. Cenk Uygur breaks it down.



DARPA Talks About Hacking Cars


DARPA Talks About Hacking Cars – Was This Used In Killing Of Michael Hastings? Michael Hastings car was speeding 60 miles and hour running a red light seconds before blowing up in flames. Conspiracy theorists have noted that Hastings covered the CIA and otherhigh-powered officials and even received death threats over his journalism


In 2010 and 2011, researchers from the University of Washington and UC San Diego published two studies concerning vulnerabilities of car computers. The first, “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile,” focused on what could be done once a hacker gained access to a vehicle’s internal network. The second, “Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces,” demonstrated how a hacker could compromise a car’s internal network without having any direct physical access to the car itself.

At Def Con 21 in August, Charlie Miller, a Twitter security engineer, and Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence at IOActive, will deliver a talk titled “Adventures in Automotive Networks and Control Units.”Miller and Valasek will address security flaws with automobile software, with particular emphasis on breaking and steering. Miller told me he was unable to provide more details on his Def Con talk, but suffice it to say that they wouldn’t be giving the talk if cars can’t be hacked. For now, we’ll take a look at what wedo know.


According to the UW and UCSD study, “there are over 250 million registered passenger automobiles in the United States,” and the “vast majority of these are computer controlled to a significant degree and virtually all new cars are now pervasively computerized.” As with everything technological, this computerization will only accelerate, for better or worse.

In the first study, researchers, led by UW professor Tadayoshi Kohno and UCSD professor Stefan Savage, were able to hack just about everything electronic in a car. They demonstrated the ability to mess with the car’s radio and instrument panel cluster (to falsify fuel level and speedometer readings), jam locks, pop the trunk, honk the horn, enable/disable windshield wipers, control the A/C environment. Most importantly, they were able to disable the engine, disable or enable brakes, and create a general denial of service while the car’s wheels were doing 40 mph.