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Legal Blog

Flaw in Your Car May Allow Hackers to Turn Off Important Safety Features

Researchers have recently uncovered a serious security defect that is now present in virtually all new vehicles that has the potential to shut down some of the most important safety features commonly found in cars and trucks. This flaw enables would-be hackers to turn off crucial vehicle safety elements such as ABS brakes, airbags, power steering, as well as any computerized components within a vehicle linked to its controller area network (CAN). If one or more of these safety elements is turned off, the results can be disastrous and require the involvement of Houston car accident lawyers.

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we are experienced at helping our clients obtain the recovery they deserve based on the injuries and losses they have incurred. We’re here to fight on your behalf, protect your rights, and help you recover the compensation you are owed.

Call our team today at (281) 283-8500, or contact us online to request a free consultation.

Hacking Electronic Systems in Vehicles

Car companies today sell vehicles that for the most part are controlled by electronic systems – this includes numerous components such as the brakes, steering, instrument cluster accelerator, airbags, and more.

All of these automated systems make the experience of driving much more efficient. However, these electronically controlled systems also open the door for hackers to cause potential disruption or damage.

Individuals who specialize in researching security features of vehicles are not new to the topic of car hacking. These professionals know how to hijack a car either remotely or firsthand, and they also how to disable vital functions of a vehicle – such as brakes and airbags.

Vulnerability in the Controller Area Network (CAN)

The new hack discovered by researchers can allow attackers to disable key safety systems such as airbags in connected vehicles, which poses a threat to a vast number of vehicle models, users, and vendors.

Researchers, uncovered an acute security liability in the controller area network (CAN) protocol that vehicle components rely on to send signals to one another within the vehicle’s entire electronic network.

CAN, which was entered into production in 1989, is responsible for managing the majority of control units and electrical subsystems found in a large number of modern vehicles.

With CAN as the standard used in virtually all light-duty vehicles driven today, this important security flaw affects all Internet connected modern vehicles, and not just one particular model for vendor.

The Hack

The messaging system in CAN is particularly targeted by this hack. The attack implemented by researchers in particular focus is on how CAN handles errors. These errors occur when a device within the vehicle reads values that are not expected.

An overload of error messages can cause a device to be cut off from the greater controller area network and shut off as a result. Hackers can use this flaw in the system to shut off critical devices such as anti-lock braking systems, airbags, and more. This certainly can lead to tragedy and the involvement of Houston car accident lawyers.

If this attack is to be conducted successfully, the attacker must have local access to the vehicle. The hack requires the introduction of a specially crafted attack device via local access.

No Complete Remedy Available Yet

This issue cannot be solved by a dealer recall, or an on-the-air patch upgrade. The flaw exists within the very design of the controller area network bus messaging protocol which is used in CAN controller chips.

Therefore, the CAN standards themselves must be changed.

Recommendations to Mitigate the Hackers Attacks

There are some recommendations that car manufacturers may employ in the realm of network countermeasures that may potentially mitigate some of the attacks. However, the threat cannot be entirely eliminated by these measures.

The real solution lies in creating an entirely new CAN standard and implementing it into a new generation of vehicles. In addition to this significant change, car makers may also consider adding an encryption layer to the controller area network bus protocol that can make the messages or signals sent from devices within the vehicle more difficult to imitate.

Contact Highly Skilled Houston Car Accident Lawyers

At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we understand the devastation you may be experiencing if you have been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. Our team takes the burden of the legal process so you can concentrate on recovery and healing. We will represent you vigorously with the goal of helping you obtain the compensation which you are entitled to.

Contact us today at (281) 283-8500, or contact us online to set up a free case evaluation.