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Car Hacking: Hackers are Targeting Your Cars Now

By Adam Ramirez | Last updated on

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

You have heard about computer hacking, and you know about carjacking, but what about car hacking?

That's right, car hacking could become a growing problem, as a new study indicates that electronics used in newer automobiles make them susceptible to a variety of hack attacks.

The study, titled Caution Malware Ahead by McAfee, details that embedded systems, for systems such as airbags, engine management and cruise control, co-exist with vehicle connections to wireless communication devices that remotely can unlock doors or start or turn off automobiles.

This environment presents vulnerabilities for intrusion.

The systems that afford these conveniences apparently can be hacked, and once accessed by an intruder, the intruder potentially could obtain personal information from the devices.

So far, what is laid out in the study is more of a theoretical exercise than a reporting of actual car hacks.

Indeed, there have not been any hacks yet on automobiles employing factory equipment, and the automobile industry is working ahead of the curve to prevent the risks from becoming a reality, according to the study.

However, the study does note one instance in which a car dealership former employee did disable a number of automobiles remotely by tinkering with aftermarket security systems within them.

So, will there be a new wave of car hacks? Honk your horn if your answer is yes.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP ( where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is and he can be reached at To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an email to him with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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