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Is Your Car Vulnerable To Getting Hacked?

According to two renowned security researchers, certain 'smart' cars are more vulnerable to getting hacked than others.
Posted at 9:45 AM, Aug 07, 2014

We've all seen the so-called "smart" cars that have taken over the roads in recent years — you know, the ones with the cool Bluetooth, radio and GPS systems that are meant to make drivers feel safer and more in control behind the wheel.

But, according to new research from security experts, some of these cars' features may not be as safe as you think.

During a talk at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, renowned security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek revealed certain smart vehicles are especially vulnerable to getting hacked.

Among those most at risk? Nissan's 2014 Infiniti Q50, Chrysler's 2014 Jeep Cherokee and GM's 2015 Cadillac Escalade. (Videos via Kelley Blue Book, CNET, YouTube / AutoGuide.com)

As Discovery points out, if a car gets hacked, the hacker could do anything from messing with the radio to manipulating the GPS to slamming on the brakes — all by accessing the car's network wirelessly.

And the Infiniti Q50 is apparently the most susceptible. The car's navigation, Bluetooth and radio functions all run on the same network as the car's engine and brakes — which makes it easy for hackers to break into just one network and gain control of all of the car's networked features.

As for the cars that are least likely to fall victim to hacking — not surprisingly, the vehicles with fewer networked functions are less vulnerable. Also key is whether your cars' networks are separated from other components.

So if you happen to drive a 2014 Dodge Viper, 2014 Audi A8 or a 2014 Honda Accord, Miller and Valasek believe you probably won't experience any major issues with hacking. (Videos via YouTube / Cars, YouTube / The Fast Lane Car, YouTube / CarPreview.com)

As PC Magazine notes, that's because those cars' network-accessible features are separate from its physical components, like the steering and brakes.

Experts say this is a new thing to consider when buying a car. And it definitely makes everyday travel a little freaky.

Especially after you look at this recent report from a cybersecurity researcher who claims he can hack the satellite communications equipment on passenger airplanes through their WiFi and in-flight entertainment systems.

Miller and Valasek say they have shared their findings with the Department of Transportation and the Society of Automobile Engineers in an effort to push car companies to think harder about their security architecture.

This video includes images from Getty Images, AlBargan / CC by ND 2.0