(Phys.org) — Now that tiny computers and electronic communications systems are being designed into cars, hackers can look toward the car, like the PC, as potential roadkill. If cars are to become computers on wheels, a number of security experts are expanding their focus on car security systems and sources of security threats. U.S. computer scientists from California and Washington state have already identified ways in which computer worms and Trojans are carried over to automobiles. Conduits include onboard diagnostics systems, wireless connections and even tainted CDs played on radios systems.
Experts point out that the numerous computers known as electronic control units, or ECUs, require tens of millions of lines of computer code to manage interconnected systems. These range from engines, brakes and navigation to lighting, ventilation and entertainment. The same wireless technologies that power cell phones and Bluetooth headsets are in cars and in turn are vulnerable to remote attacks.
Unlike PCs, though, the attacker’s goal with cars may not be to rob the victim of information but to steal the car, or spy on in-car conversation, or cause the vehicle to crash.