We've all probably heard of computer hacking. However, we typically envision an individual or group of individuals sitting in some basement or secret location attempting to covertly access someone else's information stored in computer hard drives, spreading viruses to these computers or gaining control of them for personal gain. What we do not expect, though, is that someone can hack into our vehicles at any given moment. But with the advent of modern vehicle systems technology – vehicle hacking is an actual thing!
Car Hacking Is Really A Thing!
While you may be behind the wheel, computers are controlling the majority of your car's essential functions. In fact, the average modern car has 30 to 40 microprocessor computers working at any given time while your car is turned on. There are over 100 in some vehicles. And with the increase in number of onboard computers comes the possibility of hacking these computers from miles away, as recent news articles have reported.
Here are some of the risks associated with car hacking:
Brake Disablement. Researchers at the University of Washington and University of California at San Diego recently created a program that allowed hackers to access vehicles' onboard computers to completely disable the breaks and stop the engine.
Tire Pressure System Hacking. In New Jersey, researchers at Rutgers University were able to hack into vehicles' tire pressure monitoring systems and set-off warning lights. Hackers were also able to keep tabs on unsuspecting vehicles by tracking them with Global Positioning System (GPS) software.
Complete Vehicle Disablement. Sophisticated hackers have also been able to access virtually every computerized aspect of modern vehicles, permitting them to control all of the cars' functions and even completely disable them altogether. For example, an angered former car salesman in Austin, Texas was able to hack into hundreds of vehicles sold by his former employer and completely disable these vehicles, leaving many of the cars immobile with their horns blazing uncontrollably.
In another example, independent scientists and computer gurus in St. Louis, Missouri have developed technology that let them hack into every microprocessor installed on a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Once hacked, these scientists were able to control the windshield wipers, radio/audio system, GPS system, braking system and engine system on the SUV.
Should I Be Worried?
Understandably, the idea that your car can be hacked is very unsettling. However, there may not be reason to panic … yet. Despite the obvious dangers associated with car hacking, there is really no financial incentive for hackers to mess with individuals' vehicles. Most of the cyber hacking we see today on personal and corporate computers is motivated by greed and blackmail, according to commentators. Those who hack cars, today, are simply trying to ‘flex their muscles' to demonstrate their prowess and gain notoriety in the hacking community.
Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from car hackers. You can familiarize yourself with your vehicle's onboard wireless systems by asking questions of the car dealer, reading your car's manual and performing research online. This way you can develop an understanding on whether any of your vehicle's functions can be controlled remotely.
You should also only purchase/lease your vehicles from known or reputable dealers. Shady or unscrupulous car dealers may be able to manipulate your onboard computer systems so that they can be hacked and/or monitored remotely.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, whether you believe car hacking was to blame or not, you need the help of a qualified personal injury attorney to fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve. At the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal, our personal injury lawyers have years of experience representing car accident victims and are here to help you. We can investigate all causes of your accident and advise whether a personal injury lawsuit or negotiated settlement is in your best interests. Call us today for a free consultation at (303) 647-4511, or visit us online.