Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes demonstrates how easy it is for a hacker to hijack cars. In a vacant parking lot she turns on the ignition and begins to drive, but then the car takes on a life of its own, i.e. the windshield wipers turn on, the horn beeps, without her touching a lever. Stahl giggles because it’s a harmless experiment and she’s expecting it.
But she goes on to explain the harm such a cyber attack can have. A hacker dialed her car’s emergency communications system and “transmitted a series of tones that flooded it with data.” As the car’s computer tried sorting it out, the hacker asserted an attack that reprogramed the software, gaining total remote control.” A real hacker could control the gas and brake, and can do it from anywhere in the world. When the demonstration goes a step further and “the hacker” takes over her brakes, things get interesting–and scary. Don’t worry, Stahl is fine but as she said, “That is frightening.”