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Why do hackers take interest in cars?

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A lot of interesting — and troubling — finds were revealed at a privacy and cyber-security forum in Livonia, Michigan, yesterday. Some of them pertained to the growing threat of hackers and ways to prevent them from stealing cars... or possibly more.

As reported by Autoblog, a 14-year-old boy successfully hacked into the car of a major automaker while participating in a five-day summer camp with fellow high school and college students as well as industry experts. After spending $15 on parts at Radio Shack and building his own circuit board, he managed to activate the windshield wipers, lock and unlock the doors, and even remotely start the vehicle.

This story and others (including reports that 6,000 cars were stolen by hackers in London last year) are forcing automakers to address the issue of hacking with greater resolve than ever.

“All of these cars are hackable,” said Anuja Sonalker, lead scientist and program manager for Battelle, a research and development company that works in the automotive and cyber-security fields. “We understand hackers today are after the big-ticket items. Those are the scales they’re looking for.”

Sonalker also told CBS Local that hackers may be using cars as a gateway to larger prizes, namely public infrastructure and financial institutions. “They will try to get into anything else where the car is a legitimate user of that system,” she said. 

Sources: detroitnews.com, autobog.com, detroit.cbslocal.com