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Yes Cars can be hacked

movie FX poster -- modified by NWR

movie FX poster — modified by NWR

This is about the car crash that killed Michael Hastings in LA. In my previous post that was a plot for a novel — I ended the post with the now murky lines between fiction and reality. Here’s a copy and paste of the bottom of my essay earlier post regarding the car Hastings was driving and the reaction to the news by Engineers I happen to know.


I’m like a dog with a bone on this subject — because I was driving a Toyota that had an unintended acceleration which I describe at the link. When the details of the Toyota computer problem came to light I followed the news and read what the engineers had to say about how such a computer glitch could happen. Yes cars can be hacked. Stay tuned because it looks like there are a few investigative reporters who are not going to let the bad guys get away with assassinating one of their own.

Update: This link is to a long pdf article about hacking modern cars — the results of hacking the electronic guts of car by two west coast colleges.

Abstract—Modern automobiles are no longer mere mechanical

devices; they are pervasively monitored and controlled by

dozens of digital computers coordinated via internal vehicular
networks. While this transformation has driven major

advancements in efficiency and safety, it has also introduced a range of
new potential risks. In this paper we experimentally evaluate
these issues on a modern automobile and demonstrate the
fragility of the underlying system structure. We demonstrate
that an attacker who is able to infiltrate virtually any Electronic
Control Unit (ECU) can leverage this ability to completely
circumvent a broad array of safety-critical systems. Over a
range of experiments, both in the lab and in road tests, we
demonstrate the ability to adversarially control a wide range
of automotive functions and completely ignore driver input—
including disabling the brakes, selectively braking individual
wheels on demand, stopping the engine, and so on. We find
that it is possible to bypass rudimentary network security
protections within the car, such as maliciously bridging between
our car’s two internal subnets. We also present composite
attacks that leverage individual weaknesses, including an attack
that embeds malicious code in a car’s telematics unit and
that will completely erase any evidence of its presence after a
crash. Looking forward, we discuss the complex challenges in
addressing these vulnerabilities while considering the existing
automotive ecosystem.

Repost of part of yesterday’s blog follows:

The investigative reporter(Michael Hastings) was probably assassinated — the car he was driving just doesn’t blow up and burn the driver to ashes. In fact it very very rare that a car can blow up like the reporter’s car did without the assistance of FX special effects of the movie variety. Was this very public car cash a message to other reporters and anyone who tries to dig any deeper into the tight dirty underbelly of the Military Industrial complex? In fact the story this investigative reporter was working on was the Socialite. Something about the “official” verdict about this car crash doesn’t ring true — I’ve watched too many Thrillers and read too many thrillers to believe anything that the LAPD says. Also I know a bit about FX because of extended DVD editions with all the secrets about how the computer generated and special effects are done. My BS detector was triggered when I heard “single car crash” and “fiery crash”  as well as the stories this reporter (Michael Hastings) has broken.

Reporters are being spied on and now in all probability are being assassinated — what at the secrets that are being hidden that are worth killing for?

Using the search string “C Mercedes Benz accident” this link popped up.

Despite the increased standards implemented in the NCAP crash tests, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and M-Class SUV have still earned the highest five star ratings in their latest New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) conducted by the U.S. Federal government. Since the increased NCAP crash tests requirements were implemented in 2010, very few new cars have achieved this top rating.  The results confirm what we already knew, that Mercedes-Benz owners can feel exceptionally safe in their cars.

The quote below agrees with what Engineers and FX specialists have told me — in an unrelated discussion about rigging cars to blow up for movies.

# Hacienda View 2013-06-22 06:19

C Mercedes Benz are built to survive this sort of collision. They’re N CAP tested (in Europe) to ensure that this cannot happen. Mercedes Benz are amongst the highest scoring manufacturers in N CAP tests. There’s no way the engine together with (co-incidently) the gearbox should ever part company with the chassis. Especially in a Head-on collision.

UPDATE: According the a top security expert, Richard Clark,  it is possible that Michael Hastings car was hacked. Engineers and computer engineers I’ve talked to about this single car “accident” — their first response hearing the news was “the car was hacked”. I’m also speculating that this was a very public message to all investigative journalist. It is doubtful that we will ever know exactly who ordered the assassination. The engineers of the C Mercedes Benz should be involved in the crash investigation — don’t you all think so?


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