Your Car Is a Vulnerable Computer
Last October I talked about Andy Greenberg, senior writer for Wired, Charlie Miller, security engineer for Twitter, and Chris Valasek, director of vehicle safety research at Idactive creating an informative video to show how the safety features in cars can be hacked through the internet. You can see that here. I come to you nine months later with more interesting news; now you can drive your hacked car through a hacked car wash that will destroy your car and trap you in there.
And The Car Wash Is a Vulnerable Computer, too!
The unique concern with this type of vulnerability is hacking that doesn't concern data, but hacking that uses devices to physically attack the victim. This car wash hack targets internet enabled (read "pretty much all") car washes and allows the hacker to control every aspect of the car wash like doors, arms, water, sensors, and safety features. This discovery was actually discussed this past Black Hat conference concerning the "Internet of Things."
The hack that was successfully executed by the researchers manipulated the bay door to open and close on top of a car, damaging the hood. This was the only mild hack they were willing to do as it was not their own car wash, and the researcher used his car to do this. The successful hack and execution brought on many other concerns and scenarios where targeted or random car wash victims could experience mechanical arms that bat at doors or windows, water jets spraying at the victim to make it harder to escape, and doors that can lock the car in the building.
What this means...
The researchers were generous enough to not only share this finding with the internet, but also reported to the Department of Homeland Security. The car wash companies were also made aware of this issue and hope to work with their customers to protect their networks. This may sound like a vary minor type of hack or you may be thinking "well I don't use drive-thru car washes," but it highlights something that we have to realize as we get closer to the Internet of Things - so many things we use and own in our homes are susceptible to being hacked. There will be a time where we are finding ways to protect our toilets from being hacked, but maybe only then will people realize the huge amount of resources we should be putting into our networks.