FBI warn that automobiles are vulnerable to cyberattacks

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a public service announcement warning drivers that automobiles are “increasingly vulnerable” to cyberattacks.

The announcement, which was made in partnership with the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, cites a study from August 2015 in which researchers identified vulnerabilities in a radio module of a MY2014 passenger vehicle.

In the study, the researchers found that they were able to manipulate door locks, turn signals and even disable brakes when the car was travelling at slow speeds.

They were also able to modify vehicle functions by hacking the electrical control units in the car. These ECUs control various vehicle functions including steering, braking and acceleration, as well as windshield wipers and headlights.

“While the identified vulnerabilities have been addressed, it is important that consumers and manufacturers are aware of the possible threats and how an attacker may seek to remotely exploit vulnerabilities in the future,” the FBI said.

The bureau also warned that in addition to vehicles being attacked through their ECUs, vulnerabilities also exist in mobile devices – such as a cellular phone or tablet connected to the vehicle via USB, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, or within a third-party device connected through a vehicle diagnostic port. 

This announcement comes eight months after a group of security researchers successfully shut down a Jeep Cherokee travelling at 70mph by hacking into its controls, prompting a 1.4 million product recall.

The FBI advises that consumers protect themselves by maintaining an awareness of the latest recalls and updates affecting their motor vehicles and avoid making unauthorized modifications to their vehicles software.

Author , ESET

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