You might think that viruses could only cause damage to your computer, but you’d be wrong for a number of different reasons. Today, viruses can wreak havoc on one’s personal and financial lives – all while turning your computer into a frozen, useless brick.
But it looks like hackers are targeting a new frontier when it comes to computer viruses: cars.
Today, many cars are outfitted with computer systems. This (usually) makes it easy to fix car problems, and it can provide mechanics with a detailed look inside a car’s brain. This might seem like a good thing, but it has opened up a world of computer security that few people have ever thought about: car viruses.
According to a report by the Globe and Mail, security experts at Intel Corp.’s security division are toiling away to find vulnerabilities in a number of different car systems. Intel, as you might already know, is the creator of McAfee, a popular type of antivirus software.
The report claims that every car has dozens of tiny computers and communications systems that could be vulnerable to an attack. A hacker with the right tools and expertise could take over control of these systems without the knowledge of the driver.
Car computer viruses can be deadly
You might joke that car viruses would simply slow down your computer or cause a few annoying pop-ups, but they’re much more deadly than that. Like any virus, car computer viruses can cause a crash – and this type of crash can’t be fixed by simply restarting your computer.
After getting control of your car’s systems, a hacker could potentially configure the lighting, ventilation, and any other electronic systems within a car. Some car models might even feature computer-connected brakes and accelerators, which means that car computer viruses have the potential to be deadly.
Don’t expect your car to pick up computer viruses just by driving around: today, most viruses are spread over the internet, and just connecting your PC to the internet exposes your computer to a substantial amount of risk. Your car, on the other hand, is probably not connected directly to the internet, which means that a hacker can’t hack into a database, see your car driving around, and then run it off the road.
Instead, car hacking would require somebody to have direct access to your vehicle. They might need to install a chipboard inside the vehicle, for example, or access your car’s main system using a wired computer.
With major car companies like Honda already studying the security of car communications systems, it’s clear to see that protecting vehicles from viruses is becoming a new reality. If you want to be totally safe from vehicle virus attacks, then you had better choose a vehicle that doesn’t feature any electronic communications systems (good luck with that).