The Evolution of Hacking: From Computers to Cars

Hacking has been a mainstay in the PC era, and moving into mobile, but where else can a hacker go?  Each day, reports concerning “hacking” grow and have increased dramatically.  As our world becomes more advanced technologically, the hacking method has also become more sophisticated.

The most common device being hacked are the computers.  However, a very alarming fact was just recently reported by an online security company, McAfee in partnership with mobile software provider Wind River and embedded security provider Escrypt – even cars can’t escape the threat of getting hacked.  As a matter of fact, they are the next target for some hackers.  This potential threat emerges as hackers are attacking companies, government officials and agencies, Hollywood personalities, and even ordinary people with ordinary lives.

So, how can cars be actually hacked?  It’s simple.  Almost all the systems in a car are controlled by embedded devices that could be very vulnerable to hacking in the absence of security measures.   These systems could easily allow hackers to take control of the car, track car’s location, unlock and start car via mobile phones, disable emergency assistance, and possibly access devices connected to the car, which includes smartphones, tablets, game consoles, notebooks, and other connected devices that contain valuable personal data and information.  In other words, it’s basically the same technology development designed for the greater good was used to hack connected devices – such a bitter taste of our own medicine.

“As more and more functions get embedded in the digital technology of automobiles, the threat of attack and malicious manipulation increases,” said Stuart McClure, an executive at McAfee.

This threat however has already been handled by the auto industry through actively designing solutions to combat this issue.  To be able to address the concern properly, car industry in general is teaming up with other providers to find the right components of software expertise.

“Consumers want to stay connected, even in their cars, which is motivating automobile manufacturers to increase integration between cars and consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets,” McAfee said. “However, in the rush to add features, security has often been an afterthought. The report highlights examples of how automotive systems have been compromised.”

Reports  on some recent  attacks and threats include  South Korea’s Epson, HSBC and Gabia were hacked and has compromised a lot of the company’s business.  In addition, a very recent report was released that a journalist was arrested in hacking a case through mobile phone voice mails.

Well, there are still some good things about staying connected.  Today, almost all consumer electronics devices are already capable of being connected to the internet.  Smartphones in particular are now used as a universal remotes to control every connected device, and can also be used for home security systems.

With every new technology and infrastructure being introduced, there are always risks involved.  There are improvements because there are imperfections.  The biggest challenge we have now is how to ensure our safety and security in this technology-driven world.  If getting connected is a necessity, how safe is safe then?