The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said that more than one in three vehicles stolen in London is taken by hackers who do not have the owner’s keys. This is set to become more commonplace according to Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) computer science expert, Dr. Michael Ellims. He also highlights that hackers may also start to tamper with brakes or other crucial ‘safety aspects’ of vehicles.

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Dr. Ellims explains: “The attacks described by Theresa May have been known about in the academic community for some time. For instance, proof of concept attacks against vehicle key security algorithms were conducted by academics nearly a decade ago, and the necessary hardware has only become cheaper since then.

“Attacks where criminals get hold of a duplicate set of electronics for a vehicle, such as from a vehicle scrap facility, and use them to replace the electronics on another vehicle have been going on for some time. Attacks where the vehicle or duplicate key is reprogrammed in situ would be a logical extension of this.

“As vehicles become more connected, attacks over wireless services could become more common if manufacturers don’t respond. Although this doesn’t seem especially prevalent yet, this may change.
“Possibly more worrying have been the proof of concept demonstrations performed in the USA which show that once access has been gained, critical systems including the brakes can be tampered with or even disabled.”

Industry demand for the cyber security skills needed to address cyber car crime, not to mention other security issues, is growing all the time. Earlier this week, a free online course designed to inspire the next generation of cyber-security professionals, supported by the Government, was launched.

The MOOC – which stands for Massive Open Online Course – was developed by Open University with the support of IET. It is the first of its kind anywhere in the world to gain government support. For more information, visit:

About IET

ietThe IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.

For over 140 years the IET has been inspiring, informing and influencing the global engineering community, supporting technology innovation to meet the needs of society. With the complexity and diversity of the engineering world the role of the IET is more relevant now than it ever has been.


ISBuzz Staff
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