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 |  Sep 02 2010, 8:24 PM

You’ve decided to buy a new car, complete with all the high-techy trimmings. But does that make your car vulnerable to hackers?

Your new ride probably isn’t a high-priority target for hackers, but security experts believe that car hacking is going to become more mainstream. This is thanks to new wireless technologies and a dependence on computers to make cars safer, more energy efficient and modern.

Some of these innovations are put in place to improve safety. Systems like the wireless tire pressure monitoring systems use a radio frequency transmitter to communicate to the central car computer over the Controller-Area Network (CAN). Unfortunately, researchers at the University of South Carolina and Rutgers University found this system to lack security after testing two tire pressure monitoring systems.

“While spoofing low-tire-pressure readings does not appear to be critical at first, it will lead to a dashboard warning and will likely cause the driver to pull over and inspect the tire,” said the report.”This presents ample opportunities for mischief and criminal activities, if past experience is any indication.”

There’s also been research to test security problems with keyless entry systems in cars, as well as recent reports that outline the risks that come with computerized internal car networks. In one report, researchers from the University of Washington and University of California, San Diego, tested how easy it would be to hack a vehicle’s system by connecting a laptop to the onboard diagnostics port that they then wirelessly controlled via a second laptop in another car. They were they able to remotely lock the brakes and the engine, change the speedometer display, as well as turn on the radio and the heat and honk the horn.

Other systems that may be at risk to car hackers include the Engine Control Unit and infotainment systems, which include the SYNC system and Bluetooth technology.

[Source: Cnet]