29 Jul 2013

Hackers to Publish How-to Guide for Taking over Prius, Ford Escape

Two hackers plan to publicly release a how-to guide for taking over Toyota Prius and Ford Escape with potentially deadly consequences, according to Reuters. Twitter security engineer Charlie Miller and director of security intelligence Chris Valasek believe other white hackers will soon discover more vulnerabilities in car software that should be fixed before cyber-criminals exploit them.

“I trust the eyes of 100 security researchers more than the eyes that are in Ford and Toyota,” Charlie Miller told Reuters.

The car hacking software will allegedly force a Toyota Prius to brake suddenly at 80 miles an hour and veer or accelerate quickly, without the driver’s prompting. Hackers may also disable the brakes of a Ford Escape driven at slow speed, so that the car keeps moving even if the driver presses the brake pedal.

“Imagine what would happen if you were near a crowd,” Chris Valasek told Reuters. The security consultant is already known for discovering several vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Windows software.

“It’s entirely possible to do,” Toyota Motor Corp. representatives said. “Absolutely, we take it seriously.”

“This particular attack was not performed remotely over the air, but as a highly aggressive direct physical manipulation of one vehicle over an elongated period of time, which would not be a risk to customers and any mass level,” Ford Motor spokesman Craig Daitch told Reuters.

The research was conducted with a grant from the U.S. government and will be released this week at the Def Con conference in Las Vegas.