Letter Re: Vehicle Shutdown Via Remote Control–No Longer Just a Remote Possibility

Dear JWR:
I hope that you are well. I thought that the following news report may be of interest to your blog. Not to get too “tinfoil-hat” here, but many of your readers may not appreciate the vulnerabilities their vehicles’ computers expose them to. See: Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely. The article begins:

“More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.”

In this case the compromised system was an after-market product, but in a recent OnStar commercial GM actually brags about being able to remotely shut down a running vehicle [with their “Stolen Vehicle Slowdown” feature on “select 2009 and later models”.]

Increasingly new vehicles are being equipped with these systems (e.g. GM’s OnStar and Ford’s Sync) as they are built. These systems are capable of providing location using GPS, two-way communication via the audio system (possible covert monitoring as well?), are capable of arming or disarming security system, locking and unlocking of doors, and even starting and shutting down the engine. Is that really a good idea? – L.S.C.