Computer researchers demonstrate how cars can by hacked via laptop

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
Font Size:

A team of computer security researchers recently demonstrated just how easy it is for malicious hackers to physically hijack a modern car using a laptop.

By taking advantage of the computer hardware and software built into the automobile’s systems, researchers Chris Miller and Chris Valasek showed that they were able manipulate the displays on the vehicle’s dashboard and physically control the car’s movements.

Their research — funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) — debuted online on Wednesday in a demonstration to Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg nearly a week ahead of the annual DefCon hacker conference.

The conference will run between August 1 – 4. Academics have researched the concept going back as recent as 2010. In 2010, an Austin-area hacker was also able to remotely disable cars sold by his former employer.

Veteran’s Today also reported in 2010 on an assassination technique pioneered by the Central Intelligence Agency called “Boston Brakes.” The technique allowed for a hacker to remotely commandeer the physical controls of a vehicle.

Miller and Valasek’s demonstration also served to bolster further speculation that the late-journalist Michael Hasting’s vehicle was hacked, leading to his untimely and tragic death on June 18.

Follow Josh on Twitter