by Mike Barry
CEO Fort Collins Web Works LLC
Vehicle computers are controlling more and more aspects of your driving. They increase performance, improve braking and provide a more enjoyable driving experience. If you thought computer viruses were scary and obnoxious, how would you feel about someone taking control of your car while you were driving?
Researchers at UC San Diego have found a way to add a trojan horse to music files that can infect a car's computer when the music is burned to a CD and played in the car CD player. These infected music files can be shared on the Internet without detection until they infect a vehicle. The researchers were able to turn off the car's engine, lock and unlock doors, disable the brakes and mess with the speedometer.
They don't expect automobile malware to become much of a problem in the near future because malware attacks have to be tailored to specific vehicle makes and models and the amount of time and money required to attack a specific vehicle just isn't worth it, unless someone with a lot of skill really doesn't like you.
Many people use GPS units in the vehicles today. Ever wonder how secure your location information is? TomTom, who sells 37% of automobile GPS units, saves your location and speed information in a database, and in April 2011 they admitted selling the information to the police who are using it to determine the most profitable locations for their speed cameras and speed traps.