There are a lot of people excited with these new infotainment operating systems. “It will facilitate the communications between your smartphone and your car, wooooo!”. But there’s something I don’t think anyone had yet thought about: In car computer viruses.
They said, years ago, smartphones were invulnerable to viruses. Yet the hackers (and the NSA) discovered how to exploit small breaches to get full control of the device. They said Macs couldn’t get viruses, but yet again the hackers (and probably the NSA too) discovered how to exploit small breaches to get full control of the computers. Heck, there are even Linux viruses.
After the recent news about a Chrysler’s Uconnect security breach which can, in theory, (which means it will be used IRL by a 14 year old script kiddie) give total control of the car to a hacker. I heard before what sounded an anachronism alert in my head: “Infotainment systems are invulnerable to viruses”, which according to the last examples, probably means they’ll begin discovering viruses for them in the next months.
So, with more and more drive-by-wire systems and the inevitable security breaches in these infotainment OS, it isn’t hard to imagine a malware programmed to infect Android Auto / Apple CarPlay, exploit a breach to gain access to the ECU and wrecking havoc in throttle control, steering wheel sensivity or, in worst cases, disabling air bags and cranking the throttle to eleven. Depending on the level of connectivity of the engine’s systems, someone could code a virus similar to CIH (a computer virus who could physically damage the computer) to disable the oil/water pump and physically damaging the engine.
This is one of the reasons I like older cars. They’re mechanical. They can’t be hacked. Fear the future.