Your Vehicle Is In Danger of Being Hacked by Computer Viruses

August 30, 2012

Computers and electronic communication systems that are installed in today’s modern vehicles have the hazard of being hacked. Intel’s McAfee, one of the best known software companies that fight PC viruses, is currently working to protect these computer and communication systems so that viruses can not affect your modern vehicle.

Automakers have failed to adequately protect these systems, leaving them vulnerable to hacks by attackers looking to steal cars, eavesdrop on personal conversations and even harm passengers by causing vehicles to crash automatically.

According to the SAE International, no violent attacks using computer viruses have been reported to date.

These viruses, worms and Trojans can be delivered to your automobile through onboard diagnostics systems, wireless connections and even tainted CDs played on radio systems.

The concern for automobile computers and electronic communication systems being hacked came from research conducted by a group of computer scientists from the University of California and the University of Washington, who published two research papers, in May and August of 2011, showing that computer viruses can infect cars and cause them to crash, harming both the driver and passengers. This group of computer scientists figured out how to attack vehicles by putting viruses onto compact discs. When victims try to listen to the CD, the vehicle is infected through the car radio and can make its way across the network and other vehicle systems. One of their examples is an attack called “Self Destruct”. This is when a 60 second timer pops up on a car’s digital dashboard and starts counting down. When it reaches zero the virus can immediately shut off the vehicle’s lights, lock its doors, turn the engine off and release or slam on the brakes.

Therefore; the SAE‘s Vehicle Electrical System Security Committee, a committee of more than 40 industry experts, is working hard to develop specifications which would reduce the risk of vehicles being infected with viruses.

As of July 1

March 22, 2012

ignition interlock device

As of July 1, 2012, in the state of Virginia, every first time drunk-driving offender will be required to install an ignition interlock device in their automobile. The ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer in your vehicle that prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver fails the on-board alcohol breath test. In Virginia, the device is set to fail if the reading is above 0.02 percent blood alcohol content. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets the standards for the device and it varies from state to state. The device is quite small and integrated into your automobiles starting mechanism.

This new punishment bill for drunk drivers was approved by over 80% of legislators in Virginia, making the state one of the 15 states that already require mandatory interlock ignition devices for first time drunk driving offenders. In Virginia alone there were over 30,000 DUI and DWI convictions, out of which most offenders had a blood alcohol content of 0.14, in 2010. As for automobile accidents: alcohol related crashes were about 7% of total accidents, but made up about 37% of fatal accidents in Virginia, in 2010.

The Guidelines for the new law require that:

  • A judge will order the installation of the ignition interlock device. After which, the court clerk will register the court order with the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will restrict the defendants driver’s license and then the driver must show proof that the ignition device was properly installed in their vehicle, within 30 days of the court order.
  • The court will revoke the driver’s restricted license if the offender does not install the device within the 30 days after the court order is made and if the device is not properly maintained and monitored.
  • An electronic log of all breathalyzer test readings will be maintained by the device. Should the offender fail any of the tests, both random and initial starter tests, the vehicle’s horn will sound, repeatedly, and the lights will flash.
  • The device must remain in the offenders’ vehicle for 6 consecutive months without a failed breathalyzer test result and the offender may not drive any other vehicle without the device.
  • After a second DUI/DWI conviction, every vehicle registered and owned by the offender must have a device installed.

In addition to the ignition interlock device, the following are also consequences of drunk-driving punishments in Virginia:

– Suspension, restriction and or revocation of the offenders’ license – Jail or prison time – Fines – Community service – Probation – Alcohol education – Criminal record – Treatment – Vehicle impoundment, and – Repayment of costs incurred by the state for state property damage, police costs and fire/emergency services.

Therefore; if you or a loved one is arrested for and/or charged with DUI or DWI, you must contact my office to discuss your legal rights and discuss a plan of defense.