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How Chinese hackers could HIJACK EVs to crash cars and trap drivers in terrifying sabotage attacks | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


EV DRIVERS are at risk of terrifying sabotage attacks from China if it decides to use its electric cars for geopolitical gain, an expert has warned.

As fears of World War Three continue to escalate, so do those of a cyber attack from Beijing should they look to gain an early advantage on the West.

Netflix’s apocalyptic film Leave the World Behind depicts a horrifying scene in which hundreds of EVs crash into each other after being hijacked remotelyCredit: Netflix
A Chinese electric car dramatically bursts into flames on a street in ChinaCredit: Supplied

Cars smashing into each other, doors suddenly locking and drivers being trapped inside their vehicles are just some of the scenarios that could soon present themselves.

And with China being crowned the world’s biggest car exporter last year, it represents the perfect recipe for disaster.

Renowned for having their own WiFi, internet access and potential to store endless personal data, China’s cars are virtually computers on wheels.

So with Chinese-made motors at full risk of sabotage, Beijing has the ultimate trick up its sleeve to humiliate Western democracies.

Cliff Steinhauer, director of information security and engagement at The National Cybersecurity Alliance, has warned of the potential risks posed by China’s EVs.

He revealed how research and tests are conducted to determine how outside threats could look to harm EVs and their drivers – and they have often produced some terrifying results.

Speaking to The Sun, Steinhauer said: “We have seen in research activities that software is able to completely take over a vehicle and control different functions of the vehicle, so it’s certainly a possibility that this could happen.

“Those researchers are doing that work to prove what’s possible and then bring that work back to the manufacturers so that they can make a fix for it in the vehicle itself.

“I think our hope is that it continues and that adversary simulations continue to happen against these devices.

“We have to keep testing to stay on top of these potential vulnerabilities, and continue to fix them, in advance of them being rolled out en masse.

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“I have seen research reports of software taking over all of the functionalities of the vehicle, including braking, accelerating, steering and navigation – so the threat exists.”

Other theories claim vehicles could even put themselves in reverse or ignore stop signs.

Last month, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo raised exactly this danger.

She said EV cars “are like smartphones on wheels” and pose a serious national security risk.

Raimondo warned: “Imagine if there were thousands or hundreds of thousands of Chinese-connected vehicles on American roads that could be immediately and simultaneously disabled by somebody in Beijing.”

While the potential threat to human safety is alarming, the main concern falls on the corruption of personal and sensitive data.

We’re talking about fully electric vehicles, connected to the internet, made in China, communicating with potential servers in China – all things that the car needs to work but can also be used as a spying tool

Cliff Steinhauer

And with the EVs boasting their own internet and ability to function with a basic connection, they pose as the ultimate spying tool.

Steinhauer told The Sun: “The fear is that Chinese electric vehicles would enable more detailed data collection about the drivers of these vehicles.

“If you look at it from the perspective of national security and security from an adversary such as China, then you’re looking at what they could do, if they wanted to, with that access and connection into all these vehicles.

“We’re talking about fully electric vehicles, connected to the internet, made in China, communicating with potential servers in China – all things that the car needs to work but can also be used as a spying tool.”

While Steinhauer believes the threats of a cyber attack are nothing new, he claims people buying Chinese-made products must understand the risks they are taking.

It’s feared Chinese hackers could tap into EV’s computer system and take control of the cars
Previous EV disasters have seen faulty batteries destroy a series of carsCredit: news.com.au
Expert Cliff Steinhauer warned China’s EVs could be hijacked by hackers, leaving drivers with no control over their cars

“It’s a matter of using technology from a source that you trust or don’t trust, and I think the trust has gone down recently with the Chinese and their products,” he said.

“Look at the chip wars and terrorists – it’s an interesting time.

“I think you have to understand those risks if you’re going to buy a product. It’s up to people to understand the risks they’re taking.”

Yet there are still too many basic things people shouldn’t be doing, according to Steinhauer, with many not up to par with basic cyber-security habits.

But it’s not just consumers who are the culprits, however, with those making and designing the products also at fault for ignoring certain dangers that could put hundreds of thousands at risk of an attack.

“The pace of capitalism and trying to be first to market sometimes means security is put on the backburner when you’re trying to have the best possible product,” Steinhauer said.

It’s a matter of using technology from a source that you trust or don’t trust

Cliff Steinhauer

“That’s something we’ve seen with the electric charger, there’s a lot of innovation happening there and there’s a lot of competition.

“People care about range, how long it takes to charge their vehicle and how much it costs, but they’re not yet as concerned about what software vulnerabilities are in the charging devices and what it can do to your vehicle, or how they’re securing your information.

“Those are things that we want to start educating people about so that they can at least be aware about these things and what to look out for.”

Following US Commerce Secretary Raimondo’s warning about Chinese-connected vehicles on American roads, Washington has launched an investigation into the security dangers of “foreign-made” vehicles connected to the internet.

But the call to action may have already come too late, especially after China was crowned the world’s biggest car exporter last year.

The Asian powerhouse is already planning to increase its competitive advantage in electric vehicles further by building new factories abroad, the Daily Mail reports.

Pictures have already emerged of specialised trains that can transport EVs across the Eurasian landmass – allowing the vehicles to reach Europe in just twenty days.

MADE IN CHINA

The UK has already moved to counteract some of the dangers threatened by Chinese technology, such as removing Huawei from our next-generation 5G mobile phone system, for example.

But with Chinese technology so successful and popular across the world, almost everyone owns something that was made there.

“I don’t think anybody who uses a piece of technology isn’t using something made in China,” Steinhauer said.

“But we’re becoming more aware of the possible threats that it could mean.”

Of course, a critical operating device like a vehicle is going to come with a certain level of reliability against dangerous software.

And figuring out what’s possible and then handing that information over to defend against it is critical in preventing any future attacks.

I don’t think anybody who uses a piece of technology isn’t using something made in China

Cliff Steinhauer

“But they don’t know what they don’t know,” Steinhaur said.

“Attackers are always experimenting and always trying to find new ways to break things.

“There are certainly ways to lock down access to the vehicle, but we’ve seen time and time again with all sorts of software systems across the world that attackers eventually find their way in and disrupt things.”

He added: “I think the biggest risk today is data theft and personal information being linked, but I think the future remains to be seen if somebody tries to attack a moving vehicle or something like that.

“Hopefully, vehicle companies are already thinking of ways to prevent that from happening.”

Xi Jinping, leader of China, which is planning to increase its competitive advantage in electric vehicles further by building new factories abroadCredit: AFP

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