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How Easily Can a Moving Car Be Hacked? | Motherboard


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Shortly after Rolling Stone contributing editor Michael Hastings died in a fiery auto crash in Los Angeles, conspiracy theories began to pop up online. The mysterious circumstances practically begged for a new brand of '70s-era Nixonian paranoia. Hastings had regularly pushed buttons in DC. The accident occurred at around 4:00 AM. Only hours earlier, Hastings had been at the sold-out premiere of friend Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars documentary. And, most notably, Hastings spoke to a WikiLeaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson hours before his death, then sent a panicky email to BuzzFeed staff, stating he was "onto a big story" and going off the grid for a bit. 

The conspiracy theory suggesting Hastings' Mercedes C250 was hacked is both extremely unlikely and near impossible to prove. That said, is such a hack even possible? Yes. Various researchers have proven that cars can be hacked. This article, however, is chiefly concerned with what types of car hacking are possible. 

In 2010 and 2011, researchers from the University of Washington and UC San Diego published two studies concerning vulnerabilities of car computers. The first, "Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile," focused on what could be done once a hacker gained access to a vehicle's internal network. The second, "Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces," demonstrated how a hacker could compromise a car's internal network without having any direct physical access to the car itself.

Reading those papers, I'm certain there are easier ways to get someone than hacking their car.

Too hard to be practical.

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