Most modern cars are festooned with computers and electronic control systems, so it’s safe to assume malicious hackers will, at some point, get all Anonymous on your pride and joy. Don’t believe us? Then check out this Forbes.com video of two digital carjackers hacking into a Toyota Prius.
In the clip, Charlie Miller, a security engineer at Twitter and Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence at IOActive, can be seen demonstrating, very ably, the fact that cars are electronic gadgets that can be manipulated just like other piece of consumer tech.
By connecting an Apple MacBook to the car’s ODBII diagnostics port below the dashboard, they were able to trigger a series of minor and major events that could annoy drivers at best and cause a serious accident at worst.
Minor hacks included manipulation of the car’s fuel gauge and speedometer, triggering the seatbelt pre-tensioners and sounding the horn.
Terrifyingly, the pair were even able to take control of major systems, including activating and deactivating the brakes at the push of a few buttons. In one demo they take control of the steering by activating the Prius’ automatic reverse parking feature (which enables reverse gear and automatically turns the wheel) while the car is travelling at speed.
Luckily for us, Charlie and Chris are two of the good guys. They were given an $80,000-plus (£52,200) grant from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the Pentagon’s research arm) to root out security vulnerabilities in cars.
The pair will release their findings and their hacking software at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas next month, in order to help other researchers find and fix the car industry’s security problems before hackers can take advantage.
Have a gander at the video below and let us know how terrified you are in the comments below.