Now Reading
OnStar Cars Can Be Hacked

OnStar Cars Can Be Hacked

by Brad MerrillMay 16, 2010

You’ve seen the commercials.  A stolen car is remotely disabled and guided safely to the side of the road, avoiding dangerous police chases.  That’s all fine and dandy, but could a hacker remotely control cars too?  According to researchers, the answer is yes.  

It isn’t that surprising, as the OnStar system is essentially a computer on a network, but when people’s physical safety is at risk, it becomes a big deal.  Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego experimented with the system to try to hack into it, and they did.  They were able to force cars to stop, cut their engines, disable their brakes, or even discharge windshield washer fluid, thus blinding the driver of the car.

If it comforts you, the researchers did have to physically hook a computer up to the diagnosis port.  While that may not be easy, it’s certainly not impossible.  Mechanics could easily do it during your annual car inspection, or maybe an oil change.

This is going to be in the back of my mind if I’m ever offered an OnStar-equipped vehicle at a dealership.  Is it really secure enough?

I’m assuming OnStar will be making some changes to their system, because at this point, not only is this hack possible, but it is also being broadcasted heavily through every news medium.

About The Author
Brad Merrill
Brad Merrill is the founder and former editor of VentureBreak.