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2014-07-24 10:16

DANGEROUS TECHNOLOGY: Drivers could be in trouble in the future as hackers might now be able to even kill by using the technology in the vehicle. Image: Supplied

BOSTON, Massachusetts - Two security experts who a year earlier exposed methods for hacking the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape say they have developed technology that will keep automobiles safe from cyber attacks.

At 2013's Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas theresearchers, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, described ways to launch dangerous attacks, including manipulating the brakes of the moving Prius and the Ford Escape.

Valasek, director of vehicle security research at the consulting firm IOActive, told Reuters on July 22 2014 that he and Miller would showa prototype "vehicle intrusion prevention device" at August 2014's Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas.


They built the device with the equivalent of R1500 in electronics parts, though the real "secret sauce" is a set of computer algorithms that listen to traffic in a car's network to understand how things are supposed to work. When an attack occurs, the device identifies traffic anomalies and blocks rogue activity, Valasek said.

The two well-known computer experts decided to pursue the project because they wanted to help automakers identify ways to defend against security vulnerabilities in their products.

Valasek said: "I really don't care if you hack my browser and steal my credit card but crashing a car is life or death. It is dramatic. We wanted to be part of the solution."

The research the two have released on the Ford and Toyota cars, as well as work by other experts on different types of vehicles, has raised concern that somebody might try to replicate their work to launch a real attack.


Yet the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement on Tuesday (July 22) that it was not aware of any incidences of consumer vehicle control systems having been hacked. The auto industry has beefed up efforts to identify and mitigate potential cyber-security risks over the past few years.

Jack Pokrzywa, manager of global ground vehicle standards with SAE International, a group that represents industry engineers, said: "Cyber security is a global concern, a growing threat for all industries -, including the automotive.

Pokrzywa declined to comment on the specifics of the new technology from Valasek and Miller, though he said: "Any viable solution reducing cyber threats is a step in the right direction."

A representative for Ford had no immediate comment on the device. Toyota could not be reached for comment.

Read more on:    toyota  |  ford  |  boston  |  massachusetts  |  security

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