05 Aug 2011

Text messaging is the new hot wiring

For computer security expert Don Bailey, it's as easy to break into a car as it is to send a text message.

At this week's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, Bailey and his colleague Matthew Solnik described how they were able to set up a Global System for Mobile Communications network to glean password authentication messages sent via text message technology between cars and remotes used to unlock cars and start their engines. This enabled Bailey and Solnik to unlock cars by sending a text from an Android phone--a claim the duo proved at Black Hat by remotely unlocking and starting a Subaru Outback, TG Daily reports.

Hackers could use similar methods to hijack air traffic control systems, power grids and anything else operating through connections to cellular GSM networks, Bailey told CNN.

Two other computer security gurus, Jonathan Pollett and Tom Parker, shared a similar message with Black Hat audiences this week. They showed how hackers could relay commands to small programmable logic controllers used to operate machinery like water pumps and power generators.