Relax, Your Car Will Soon Be Safe From Revenge-Driven Extortionist Hackers

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Apparently, it’s Technology Tuesday here at TTAC, so we can bring you news of a device that will kick your deeply held fears to the curb.

Vehicle hacking has been an issue ever since a Jeep Cherokee had its steering, transmission and brakes commandeered last summer, and an Israeli firm is now offering protection against keyboard warriors, according to CNBC (via Business Insider).

Karamba Security unveiled a security system designed for connected vehicles last week, promising a wall of defense against malevolent malware enthusiasts. The system shuts down any code that wasn’t written by the automaker’s tech team, preventing outsiders from hijacking a vehicle’s operating systems.

Infotainment and GPS systems are the keyhole that hackers wriggle through to get at the systems that affect driveability, so this is where Karamba’s firewall would sit. To get its technology into vehicles, Karamba would have to form a partnership with the manufacturers who provide the systems to automakers.

There’s plenty of competition from larger security players in this emerging field, but the speed at which vehicles are becoming connected is increasing, making it a race for Karamba and others to stay ahead of the hacker’s game. Autonomous systems are being put in charge of ever more vehicle functions, providing new doors for hackers to walk through.

It’s not hard to imagine the havoc that could be caused by a vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system suddenly activating on a highway, or the fancy doors of the upcoming Lincoln Continental failing to unlock on a hot day. And self-driving cars … well, that could turn into Speed 3 in a hurry.

Frankly, if Hollywood scriptwriters aren’t getting inspiration from some of these ideas, they’re even dumber than people assume.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Tonycd Tonycd on Apr 12, 2016

    If this story makes you chuckle, run a quickie search on "Michael Hastings Mercedes" and that smirk will get wiped off your face in a hurry.

  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Apr 12, 2016

    I wonder if this hacking concern is blown out of proportion. My Escape Hybrid has two data buses. One is high-speed and includes all the vehicle operation systems mentioned as being vulnerable. The medium or low-speed bus includes pedestrian stuff like the sound system. So far as I know, you can't access the high-speed bus from the other one. I also have no idea how common it is for cars to have two separate data buses.

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.