Beware! Car Thieves have Become Hackers

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Gone are the days when car thieves used to by jamming a screwdriver into the ignition or cutting a few wires to switch on the car. These thieves have now graduated into a new territory. They have become hi-tech. Engadget was the first one to report this saddening news that we car owners are not save. Probably because the new thieves are hackers are probably they know about IT in your car than you know. The modern day thieves are using just a laptop as the new tool for their trade. The first pair of thieves was reported by ABC13 in Houston. All they required was specific software installed in their computers. They store jeeps over the past hundreds of days.

ABC13 provided to the public a video of one of those incidents. It shows one of the thieves breaking into the car and connecting the car to the software on his laptop and then smoothly sailing away without breaking a sweat. The software simply started the car.

So far the duo has successfully stolen approximately 30 Jeeps. Once they steal the vehicles, they drive them across to Mexico where they sell them for a tidy sum.

These are not new incidents where Jeeps and Dodges have been stolen through hacking. In 2015, there were reports that hackers were able to stop the Jeep’s transmission while on a highway using the car’s Wi-Fi connection. This year, the hackers have advanced to the level of controlling the vehicle’s accelerator and steering. The only challenge they have is that they have to plug into the car to get that reported control. This news is very worrying.

Even if the thieves are not interested in taking control of the Jeeps to crash them, this has set a bad precedent. Are our motorcars slowly turning into rolling Smartphones? This calls for increased hard work by the motorcar makers to strengthen cyber security of the cars that they produce.

The Guardian Newspaper reported that the hacking of Jeep Cherokee lead to recalling of over 1.4 million autocars  by Fiat Chrysler proving that the cars were not able to handle the cyber security challenge. The recall was to update the software to secure the cars.

Email Risper Buyeke at; follow her on Twitter at @risper_flora


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Geoffrey Kerosi is a prolific Kenyan writer based in Nairobi City. Email: Skype: gkerosi Whatsapp: +254713 639 776 YouTube: Kerosi TV

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