New Hope in Protecting Cars From Computer-Based Viruses

Malicious software has been a mainstay on the Web from almost the beginning. Viruses, spyware and other programs continue to increase in prevalence, and can be unsuspectingly downloaded through websites and email.

Personal computers are still at risk, while mobile phones and other devices are increasingly so. Even cars are not immune to viruses and other software-based security risks.

Modern automobiles are filled with electronics, including communications equipment and small computers. Hackers can infiltrate such systems, like a website or server, and steal cars or disable vital systems, increasing the risk of a crash.

Hackers can even infect communication systems to listen in on conversations.

Image courtesy of digitalart /

The Increasing Threat to Automobiles

Computer virus protection is standard and there are many different options out there. Ask anyone in the tech industry, from programmers to the average SEO company … everyone has an opinion on the best software to use.

Virus protection on cars, however, is still being researched. In 2010, computer scientists conducted a study on how vehicles could be damaged at high speeds, potentially harming drivers and passengers.

Wireless systems, including Bluetooth, and the OnBoard Diagnostics Port were examined by researchers as recently as August 2011 to examine how an infection can be released.

While there have been no accidents reported due to viral infections as of August 2012, the possibility has been widely studied. Ford has employed security engineers to secure vehicle communications and entertainment systems as best as possible.

Honda says it is investigating how to protect vital systems, while Toyota says it has never reported any incidents caused by infected code.


The Push for Innovation

Security experts have voiced concern because of how computerized modern cars are; some have estimated that automakers are 20 years behind software firms in addressing security.

Engines, brakes, lighting and entertainment systems are controlled electronically, and automotive wireless communication operates similarly to cell phones, which are already known to be a prime target for hackers.

Some experts say computer viruses could be easily introduced into several important systems.

Intel’s security division, including the company’s well-known McAfee unit, is actively looking for bugs in vehicle electronic systems that could open the door for viruses.

Also, an auto security research center has been set up in Columbia, Maryland, by Battelle Corp., known as the Center for Advanced Vehicle Environments.

To prove that infecting a car was possible, scientists from the University of California and the University of Washington created a method of spreading a virus from a radio CD to other systems.

It caused a 60-second timer to appear on the dashboard and the virus then shut off the car’s lights and engine, while locking the doors and engaging the brakes.

The study proved the potential dangers while driving, and ongoing studies are looking into how automotive electronics can be protected.


About the Author: Michael is a full-time blogger who currently works for a SEO company. He has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond.

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  1. Aditya says:

    Hi Alan,
    Its not only the viruses which are infecting the cars or any other automobile to halt the working,the auto locking system is another case when one can have problems.When somebody met with an accident the center locking itself closes doors and lock them and no one can get out of it.

    On the technology which is going to uplift this problem is much awaited.
    Aditya recently posted..ERP Software CompaniesMy Profile

  2. Bhushan

    Ya sure Alan,that is other fantastic one.I think this is the technology in real mean and have advantage about this.
    I found that it can become curse and sometime can be treat like a Bless.
    Bhushan recently posted..Travel Portal DevelopmentMy Profile

  3. Naina says:

    I have never though that this test can be done through a radio signal.But at the same time i am confused that why would any hacker will spread virus in a car,what’s the use of it.?
    Naina recently posted..Financial Accounting SoftwareMy Profile

  4. Salena says:


    Viruses are the major problem in the smoothly running of the vehicles.Thanks for sharing the information with us.

    Salena recently posted..Beverly HillsMy Profile

  5. In this day and age taking every precaution to protect your vehicle and property is a prudent measure. Crime can affect anyone when you least expect it. A car alarm is a simple device that sends a message to the potential thief that there is a high likelihood that someone will be alerted if they attempt to perpetrate the crime. In the case of protecting personal valuables, an auto alarm is a cost effective measure to safeguard your property. Thieves by their very nature will always choose an easier target.

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