Great idea for NCIS episode – hacking the tires

tires by Tony the Misfit

Cars hacked through wireless tire sensors
[Via Ars Technica]

The tire pressure monitors built into modern cars have been shown to be insecure by researchers from Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina. The wireless sensors, compulsory in new automobiles in the US since 2008, can be used to track vehicles or feed bad data to the electronic control units (ECU), causing them to malfunction.

Earlier in the year, researchers from the University of Washington and University of California San Diego showed that the ECUs could be hacked, giving attackers the ability to be both annoying, by enabling wipers or honking the horn, and dangerous, by disabling the brakes or jamming the accelerator.

The new research shows that other systems in the vehicle are similarly insecure. The tire pressure monitors are notable because they’re wireless, allowing attacks to be made from adjacent vehicles. The researchers used equipment costing $1,500, including radio sensors and special software, to eavesdrop on, and interfere with, two different tire pressure monitoring systems.


Nice. $1500 and they can disable the brakes through the tire pressure sensors. And authorities will be able to follow and track people without having to place a GPS unit in the car. I would imagine that since the wireless is being broadcast, they will be within all constitutional authority here.

Or how about corporate sabotage, a la Ford messing up Toyota cars. (I see that one of the commenters mentioned this same scenario.)

And what happens when the car itself has wireless INternet connections? All sorts of ways to hack in, I would imagine, and take over the car or record its movement.

I hope the cars used for the President or other VIPs have had their TPS disabled.

[Listening to: Solitary Man from the album “The Essential Neil Diamond (Disc 1)” by Neil Diamond]