No, your car cannot be hacked

Not in the way that most people think of “hacking”, where some teenager or twentysomething thousands of miles away taps away on their laptop in an Internet cafe and gains control of your car.  Never going to happen, and do you know why?

Because your car is not a wireless device, like a PDA or a laptop.  It may have computers in it, but they aren’t networked together in the way that we think of a computer network.  That’s why. 

Ever since AOL started this nonsense and it got picked up by Fox News suddenly people all over the place are freaking out about their car suddenly going all horror movie on them.  Well, stop it.  It’s bad enough that American media is so sensational and shallow all the time, pandering to people’s fears and basest emotions.  And Fox New is especially bad, as their asinine willful ignorance regarding all sorts of science is making lots of people believe all sorts of stupid things that aren’t true.  Now I’m going to have people bothering me about how they can fix their car so it can’t be hacked, and I have enough stuff to do already.

Yeah, cars are loaded with computers, but with the possible exception of Autostar, most vehicles on the road are not connected electronically to the outside world.  Plenty of things have computers in them these days, but you can’t hack into a microwave oven or a refrigerator either for the same reason.  Cars have what is known as a CAN bus, but the CAN bus is not something that can be accessed remotely.  As one critic of the AOL article pointed out, hacking would require physical access to the car, and if someone can do that, they might as well just tamper with your brakes or slash your tires.  It’s much easier.

-Geoff

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