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‘War Texting’ – Stealing Cars with a Laptop!

by Dave on July 31, 2011

Starting a Car With a Mobile PhoneSome newer cars have features that allow you to turn off the car alarm, unlock the doors and even start the engine using your mobile phone. You may have seen the TV commercials where a father unlocks a car and starts the engine for his daughter when in fact he’s on a business trip and not even in the same city as the vehicle. My first thought was ”I hope they have good security.”

Well, researchers have figured out how to hack into the system. They say it took them 2 hours to figure out how to intercept the wireless messages between the car and the network and then recreate them on a laptop. They plan on demonstrating the process at a hacker convention. Their presentation is called “War Texting: Identifying and Interacting with Devices on the Telephone Network.”

The researchers, Don Bailey and Mathew Solnik call this technique ‘war texting’ after another wireless technique, ‘war driving’ ( which involves driving around cities looking for data on wireless networks. Here’s the complete war texting article:

If you think that’s scary, consider this:

Bailey says the same technique could be used to knock out power grids and water supplies. The car alarm and some control devices (SCADA) on critical infrastructure are connected to public phone networks. It seems there isn’t much security. In many cases these systems were created before phone security became a problem. Now remote manipulation of these control systems using phones and laptops is possible. Bailey says “Now I can make your water undrinkable. That’s scary.” [Ya think??] Here’s the article:

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