McAfee says hackers may target vehicles next

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A new report from security software provider McAfee suggests that your car might soon be the next target for hackers. The company has partnered with Wind River in releasing a PDF outlining the potential danger that hackers present to the growing number of connected vehicles.

In a section titled Car Hacks Exposed, McAfee highlights research conducted last year by the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington. In one study, the group demonstrated that key safety components could be compromised if a hacker had physical access to the vehicle’s electronics system using a proof-of-concept software called CarShark.

The team was later able to extend the same scenario to remotely mount attacks using Bluetooth. With this method a hacker could potentially gain access to any Bluetooth-connected device inside a vehicle such as a smartphone or a tablet.

Another study from the University of South Carolina and Rutgers University demonstrated it was possible to hack into RFID tags that modern vehicles use to receive pressure data from small sensors inside tires. Such an attack could be used to track a vehicle, although there are no known cases of this in the field.

Perhaps the most concerning information from the study comes when one combines the CarShark attack with a wireless attack. In this instance, a hacker could manipulate a vehicle-immobilization system and disable an auto remotely. Vehicle-immobilization systems are currently used as theft deterrent devices.

How do you feel about this? One one hand, the threat is plausible as researchers have demonstrated it. On the flip side, could McAfee be "reaching" with this data and positioning themselves for a run at making antivirus software for your car?

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