Hackers demonstrate Toyota Prius hijacking on video

By on August 7, 2013, 5:30 PM

The two hackers who last month announced plans to reveal details concerning how to hack a Toyota Prius and Ford Escape have gotten together with Andy Greenberg from Forbes to demonstrate the technique and just how much trouble they can cause once they have hijacked a vehicle’s computers.

In the video below, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller get into the backseat of a Prius with a dismantled dashboard and ask Greenberg to start driving. The two hackers are giddy in the backseat as they cycle through a series of attacks that trigger various functions of the car.

The hackers were able to cause a variety of events to occur that ranged from mildly annoying to potentially dangerous. Seemingly with the push of a button from the back seat, the Prius’s horn sounded, and the seat belt’s snapped tight against the chests of the passengers.

Most of the attacks operate by tricking the car into thinking that an incident is occurring. For instance, the seatbelts can be suddenly made taught using the vehicle’s pre-collision system by ‘forging’ that the car is about to be in a crash.

The ‘tricks’ with more nefarious potential include the ability to jerk the steering wheel to one side by triggering the automatic parking assistance, and completely disabling the brakes.

Valasek says that there are upwards of 35 electronic control units (ECUs) in the Prius, and nearly every one of them serves their own function. By compromising these systems individually, an attacker can manipulate the car in unusual ways. Fortunately, for now, it seems that the attacker needs to be inside the car to operate the hacks.

User Comments: 9

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Nobina Nobina said:

They shoul've activated airbag to freak him out.

2 people like this | Rasta211 said:

Now make an app for it!

domyz said:

You have to be inside the car to do that, so what's the point? Hitting the driver in the face and turn the steering wheel is a more efficient way to crash a car since early 1900.

domyz said:

I'm a tuner and we can mess with parameters of subaru, mitsubishis that are in movement. You can activate ABS solenoid, make the engine go crazy in one easy programming. It's called livemapping. I don't know what's up with all this surprise for the prius.

1 person liked this | Lionvibez said:

Lol nice domyz its like you had a conversation with yourself....

trparky said:

Yes, they say in the video that in order to hack the car you still need physical access to the car's internal computer systems. But there's talk about how cars of the future are going to be "smart cars" in the sense that they will connect to the Internet via cell phone 4G data networks to allow you to get streaming music over the radio, streaming video in the backseat for the kids in the back, or even directions for the heads-up display.

What would happen if someone were to hack a car over the car's data connection? From the looks of it, that may very well be possible.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Amateur hour here with these 3 guys playing around with car electronics systems in a reckless matter. First to come out with it now going to have more try to do the same thing and cause panic with Prius drivers. I am sure other vehicles on the road have the same type of pre-programmed system controlling everything.

Guest said:

You know what's f***ing sad about it ? Those guys are having fun with hacking cars with money limitlessly supplied by Defense Department. Now it's all about research (no harm attached) but in the future those guys will be enjoying their life on the beach and others be getting killed (will they give a f**k afterwards?).

Guest said:

Why don't these hackers hack my power/phone bills so I can save more? :)

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