back to article Connected smart cars are easily trackable, warns infosec bod

Upcoming connected cars that communicate with other vehicles or roadside systems might easily be tracked even by snoopers with limited resources unless the technology is tweaked, an expert in automated and connected vehicle cybersecurity warns. Connected Vehicle is an upcoming technology that allow will allow cars and road- …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Well doh!

    Isn't that the idea then?

    BB is watching you.

    Now's there's a nice an compliant citizen.... Have a sweetie.

    1. Known Hero

      Re: Well doh!

      your right its completely the Idea & Marketing is going to love this.

      Not ONLY does the New J-KILLBEAST ECO look that much more aggressive, we have polls where people feel like it is actually trying to kill them.

      With the self driving module activated, you will also be able to crash all electronics of any passer by and ensure that people notice and ENVY you at every corner before scuttling away in fear leaving the road clear for you and your self driving car.

      personally I think car manufacturers, should look at making beautiful cars, and stop with the macho Bullshit, SUV's & Hot hatchbacks I'm looking at you !!!!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well doh!

        What? Apart from the gibberish that I struggled to read:

        "personally I think car manufacturers, should look at making beautiful cars, and stop with the macho Bullshit, SUV's & Hot hatchbacks I'm looking at you !!!!!"

        So what is an AC Cobra, E-type, Austin Healey 3000 and Ferrari 250 GTO? All could be classed a pretty, but also macho, due to their performance.

        Is a Lancia Stratos OK, but not a Lancia Delta Integrale?

        Where do you stand on an original Mini Cooper S?

        1. Known Hero

          Re: Well doh!

          Yes probably not my best crafted response! But i'll abstain from the insults though.

          I am not the only one to feel this way about the car industry. Personally I feel it extends beyond the "looks" of the car into all the aspects of the car, generally its whole temperament.

          first link from google search nothing special about this article in particular.

          Yes there are some old cars built aggressively, but it is not a long list, nowadays its even family cars and Vans... Who the F*ck thought Vans need to look more aggressive !!!!!

          1. 404

            Re: Well doh!

            'Who the F*ck thought Vans need to look more aggressive !!!!!'

            Those poor emasculated dads suffering in family mini-vans need all the help they can get - don't take what little pride and self-esteem they have left, if any.

            That's just cruel.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well doh!

            Personally I feel it extends beyond the "looks" of the car into all the aspects of the car, generally its whole temperament.

            Presumably, the world will be a better place if the styling of all cars was close to that of Noddy's car (in the event that convertibles are allowed)?

            Clearly you don't recall the relevant facts, primarily that Noddy was assaulted and robbed by the goblins in order to TWOC his car, showing that regardless of the appearance, a car will still incite envy and anti-social behaviour in the lower social order. And on another occasion Noddy himself was arrested for inconsiderate driving.

            1. Known Hero

              Re: Well doh!

              Well if you decide to take it to an extreme, no I would agree with you.

              But I am not advocating everyone drives "Noddy" cars, your being foolish.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Well doh!@ Unknown Hero

                But I am not advocating everyone drives "Noddy" cars, your being foolish.

                <invite fate to point out spelling error in my own posts>

                Maybe, but at least I can spell.

                </invite fate to point out spelling error in my own posts>

                1. Known Hero

                  Re: Well doh!@ Unknown Hero

                  Wow, Now your just being a Dick.

                  I struggle EVERY day with fucking spelling, and it is purely by the grace of spellcheck that I can make myself comprehensible. Even then I know that I misspell items and I try with every post not to make mistakes. I guess you think I'm just some lazy feck who can't be bothered to learn how to spell. Well your wrong half the time what spellcheck tells me is right looks wrong and I have to just trust it that it is right.

                  I hope your feelings of superiority are justifiably rewarded each time you do this as it comes at a price.

          3. Queasy Rider

            Re: Well doh!

            I noticed that trend in 2002. I put it down to a unconscious reaction to 9/11.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Well doh!

        I dont care what my car looks like on the outside unless I'm looking for it in the car-park, So long as the inside is clean and comfy a smart cars appearance is not going to bother me at all. As for tracking - by the time I'm in the thing all those beady eyes will know where I'm going anyway.

        Any attempt to advertise shit to me on the way will cause major problems though. Gorilla tape is fun!

  2. chivo243 Silver badge

    Vintage cars

    Vintage cars = any car with out this crap. I will invest my money in vintage ;-} Maybe there is a market for old refrigerators, coffee pots etc that don't connect to the intertubes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vintage cars

      A couple decades after self driving cars first appear, it won't be legal to manually drive except in very limited areas.

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: Vintage cars

        Thank f*ck I'll likely be dead by the time that happens

  3. TRT Silver badge

    I already...

    get a lovely little chart of the various non-smart Audis and Fords (et al.) that have an onboard WiFi hotspot as they pass my flat. I can tell who are the regular commuters, when they go past, how long they stay in range (hence likely their speed which would be dependant on the road's traffic loading at that moment) etc etc. And that's just the default setting on my single home router. If I had a number of these, like the local council has installed along the ring road, high street and car parks, I'd be able to slurp a lot more. Same goes for smart phone users who have a hotspot enabled.

    Big brother indeed.

    1. Grikath

      Re: I already...

      hmmmyeah.. But paranoia aside, that is sort of the disadvantage of *broadcasting*... You're shouting out to within hearing range you're actually there.

      And seriously, you could do the same the old-fashioned way by simply taking note of license plates, which would give you a little more than just a daily movement pattern with the right access... I've a feeling this would, for all practical purposes, be a non-issue.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I already...

        Which is how they used to do traffic entry/exit surveys. Folding camp chair, flask of Bovril, wooly hat and a notebook for everyone! Costs a bit. Or they can also use mobile ANPR stations.

        But for me, it's just an 8 inch square white box sat on the living room wall. For the council, it's a small R2-D2 shaped box strapped to the top of a lamppost, or an 8" square again, hidden inside some of the wall lighting boxes in the car park. It's always on, it's practically zero cost.

        I've no objection to it, but these researchers who sound alarm bells all the time like it's something new.

        I've no idea if I should be worried about it or not, to be honest.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "taking note of license plates"

        The difference being that the license plate number is not going to be enough to allow you to hack the CAN bus and put the brakes on, whereas with on-board Wi-Fi, well these days you might as well toss a coin to see if you're secure.

        1. FlossyThePig

          Re: "taking note of license plates"

          What's a license plate?

          My car has two number plates, one at the front and one at the back.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "taking note of license plates"

            American spelling.

            In many parts of the world you get a new number plate each year to prove you've paid your vehicle tax.

            In this country we have an electronic system which has apparently greatly increased tax evasion. British civil servants always believe in doing things on the cheap (except for very big bucks defence spending).

            1. NotBob

              Re: "taking note of license plates"

              We keep our plates but get these pretty little stickers to put on when we renew our registration. Different color every year.

              1. Queasy Rider

                Re: "renew our registration"

                For decades everybody used to line up outside the gov license office at the same time every year to get their new plates. If you waited till the last day, that line would take hours to get through. Then the gov got smart and staggered the renewal dates, reducing the lines immensely, but you still had to pick up a new metal plate with a new number. Now we have stickers, and maybe some day we will be able to order them over the internet and pay for them with our credit cards, and get them the next day, Amazon style. Sigh.

            2. Vic

              Re: "taking note of license plates"

              In this country we have an electronic system which has apparently greatly increased tax evasion

              I wonder how much of that is accidental - with the old tax disks, you got a reminder every time you went near the car. Now, you get one renewal letter, and if that slips your mind, ...

              We had two cars clamped in our street a few weeks ago.


        2. Captain DaFt

          Re: "taking note of license plates"

          "well these days you might as well toss a coin to see if you're secure."

          With any internet connected device sold these days, you're secure about as often as the coin lands on edge.

  4. codebeard

    While you won't be seeing me with any kind of automated vehicle any time soon, wouldn't it be true that humans are vulnerable to blinding flashes and well-targeted lasers as well? You can bet I'll swerve or slam on the brakes if someone hits me in the eye with a laser beam too.

    1. DropBear

      "You can bet I'll swerve or slam on the brakes"

      A lot less predictably that a given model of smart car I presume. It would be a coin toss trying to engineer a predictable outcome by flashing you with something while it might be well known what you need to flash to cause a specific evasion maneuver, possibly directing the car into the exact specific spot you want it on a specific road. Could come in handy to a lot of "outside the box" thinkers, both individual and organized...

  5. Vimes

    I'm just waiting for this to happen to somebody...

  6. Joseph Eoff

    Captain Obvious teams up with Captain Clueless...

    to report on a problem that everyone with two brain cells to call their own noticed about 0.001 microseconds after the first smart car concept was bandied about.

  7. pixl97

    This may be more of a non-issue than many believe. Yes, a smart car will be trackable, just like a packet on the network. That is also how traffic will be optimizable, much more so than the constant traffic jams we have now. Why is this a non-issue then? If self driving smart cars become a thing, car ownership, in theory will drop dramatically and you'll just 'rent' the time it drives to work. Much like if someone tracks the taxi you ride to work, it means a whole lot less because it's likely to be a different one every day with many hundreds of different riders.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just found out grass is green and the sky is blue.

    Can I be a journalist?

    1. John Bailey

      "I just found out grass is green and the sky is blue.

      Can I be a journalist?"

      Nope.. Far too much factual content.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nope, no grammar errors or misspellings.

        (Seriously Mr. Leyden, proofread your articles!)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The world is coming to an end because car locations like cellphone locations can be monitored - and for good reason. No shitze Dick Tracy. If you don't want anyone to know where you are or go then move off the grid and don't use any electronic devices and you'll be fine. Otherwise you will be tracked be it by security cameras, GPS or cellphone. It's simply a choice or what you desire.

    1. Fraggle850

      Re: OMG

      How, exactly, can one be tracked by GPS? You may have an app that records and possibly sends your GPS data but that is a separate issue. You can no more be tracked by GPS than by listening to the radio - it's just a broadcast signal.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    This Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSs)

    And if you take all the capital letters you have there to the acronym, it neatly describes those designing this stuff.

    Nothing to stop autonomous vehicles being entirely independent and unconnected, it's just that all those leading the pack here are seeing autonomous vehicles as a means to an end (loads of extra data about your habits and where you are to scarf) rather than an end in themselves.

  11. Jeroen Braamhaar

    "Fortunately Petit and his fellow researchers have come up with software and hardware countermeasures"

    I got a better one - get a (real) car without all the electronic idiocy you really don't need to unlearn how to drive/park/pay attention to traffic, put your mobile in the Faraday cage (or dashboard glove box, probably practically same thing if you got a proper metal car) and you're good to go.

    Mine's the one with the naturally aspirated V8 and "wheeled IoT device" crushing bumper.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Mine's the one with the naturally aspirated V8..."

      V8's RULE!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's outrageous

    It's outrageous that they're thinking about identifying and tracking vehicles on the public roads. They'll be wanting to identify and track aircraft next!

  13. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    The IT security aspect of smart cars and car electronics is what scares me most...

    I'm just waiting for some enterprising hacker or perhaps a terrorist type to figure out how to get a group of cars to in unison accelerate to 40 mph and then make a sharp right turn right in the middle of rush hour or something. Or just find a way to bork the electronics onboard, which causes a safety shutdown of the cars engine to prevent an accident, and you have instant gridlock.

    This is an IT application that needs to be REALLY airtight. Most of us can live with a certain bank or government agency getting hacked, but if somebody finds a way to cause massive traffic jams by bricking hundreds of thousands of cars, the effects will be immediately felt in terms of business, education, food supply, emergency services, etc.

  14. Richard Jukes


    Whats that sir? You would like the mini bar equipped model?

    Im all for not driving. Done too much.

  15. John Tserkezis

    Thanks but no thanks. I'll stick to the non-featured vehicle that doesn't talk to anyone else.

    If there's any talking to be done to anyone else, it'll be me and my middle finger.

  16. Fraggle850

    I'm with my fellow commentards who advocate having an older car

    I suspect that there may well be a point where older, unconnected 'proper' cars of reasonable quality will start to command a premium amongst connoiseurs/people who like driving. I've already heard people whinging about the lack of feedback from drive by wire steering systems. My tip for the top? Mercs (and possibly beemers) that were built by/before the early/mid-nineties, but then I do like a rear wheel drive... I've recently seen S class Mercs from the eighties for around a grande/grand and a half, same for E class. I had a W123 E class with a 3.2 straight six a few years back and it was a pleasure to drive, ditto an E32 BMW 7 series (but getting like hens teeth these days). Now if I could just get over my occasional tight-arsed impulse that leads me to get something more efficient...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait... you mean

    ...that someone has invented a smart car? Are those the ones that have been involved in twelve reported accidents so far, two from improper programming? I wouldn't refer to these things as smart because they are dumber then a rock. Having car-to-car communication and GPS tracking will be useful so that authorities know where to send the ambulance and tow trucks as autonomous vehicles are allowed on the roadways. Unfortunately you'll probably need to take a number and queue up for service with the rush to market mentality being supported on AVs.

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