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Is your car safe? Researchers Use Digital Radio Broadcasts to Seize Control of Vehicle

on Friday, 15 April 2016.

Car infotainment systems can allow drivers to play music and videos, view maps, see system updates –and they can also allow an attacker to take complete control over the vehicle’s brakes and other functions.

A leading security company, NCC Group, has said that many car infotainment systems are vulnerable to a hack attack, potentially putting many lives at risk. NCC demonstrated how the hacking can be done using “relatively cheap” components connected to a laptop which creates a digital audio broadcasting (DAB) system. Infotainment systems process DAB data to display images and test on the car’s dashboard, which can enable the attacker to send a code which would let them take control of the system. NCC Research Director, Andy Davis, says it would be possible to take control of several vehicles at once, subject to the strength of the transmitter.

A similar flaw was also discovered by two US researchers. Wired magazine reported that Charlie Miller at Twitter and Chris Valasek at IOActive had managed to remotely take control of a Jeep Cherokee by transferring data to its Internet-connected entertaining and navigation system through a mobile-phone network, while its journalist was driving the vehicle.

As modern cars are increasingly becoming targets for cyberattacks due to their expanding list of autonomous features, several security researchers have stressed that it is important for manufacturers to create safe capability for automatic software updates, segregation of entertainment and engineering networks and intrusion-detection software for preventing improper commands.

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