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Car Hacking: Is it Possible?

car hacking

Car Hacking


Car hacking means the misuse and exploitation of a vehicle’s physical, software or communicational systems within it. The car’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is hacked to gain control of the car’s vulnerable systems such as speedometer, gas gauge, breaks, airbags, and other electronic controls and sensors. Car hacking can include activities to control certain features of the car, even by using a smartphone and an app.  A smartphone can control the locking system and turning car’s engine on and off.

In one demonstration, security researchers wirelessly hijacked a jeep on a highway and controlled the vehicle’s air conditioning, windscreen wipers, headlights, transmission, and even brakes.

Car hijacking is considered a highly unethical and morally wrong act if it is done without permission of the owner.

Technology can be hacked

All the latest cars being launched are highly dependent upon electronic systems and sensors. The industry is shifting towards more hybrid and electronic cars. Tesla is a famous example of an electronic car which is found commonly on the roads now. Although Tesla claims their cars to be highly secured from all sorts of hacking, the truth is that any technology can be hacked.

Where computers and software are involved, the risk of security arises. No such device has been created which has not been hacked. Same is the case with car hacking.

How is car hacking dangerous?

Imagine a situation where you are driving on a highway, and your car starts misbehaving. The windows are going up and down, the windshield wiper is out of control, and your car is honking continuously. All of a sudden, your car suddenly stops and airbags blast open. All of this situation is possible if your car is hacked.

Why would someone hack your car?

The above scenario shows just how scary and dangerous car hacking can be. But why would anyone hack your car?

  • It could be to equalize some personal grudges with a person.
  • Car hacking might be done for fun
  • To steal a car by hacking its controls

Preventing car hacking

Car hacking is a serious threat for the future as cars are becoming more indulged with electronic systems. Although there have been no reports of car engines being turned off while a car is running and the threat is only theoretical, we still need to be aware of the threat that hackers have on us and try our level best to keep our cars safe from being hacked.

Regularly get your car checked

Your car or even phone may be bugged by a virus. Getting a regular checkup of your car for bugs and viruses can reduce the chances of getting your car hacked.  Always ensure that OBD II dongles (used for engine diagnostics) are removed.  You can also consider installing a tracker.