Stealing Cars Through Text Message
I miss the good ol’ days. Like back in 1998, when the economy was booming, we had a care-free president, the Dow Jones was about to cross the 10,000 mark for the first time and crooks broke into cars with crowbars and screwdrivers.
Things were good.
It was in 1998 that I had a Toyota Pickup stolen from a Seattle park ‘n’ ride. The thieves broke into the truck like any good thief would: by jamming a screwdriver into the keyhole and breaking the door open. It’s a quick, efficient way to bust into a car and lets any moron with the desire to break the law get in on the Grand Theft Auto action. (Which, for the record, is a terrible, no good, very bad way to make a living.)
Just 13 years later things are completely different. The economy is sagging, we have a quickly graying president, the Dow Jones is about to hit 10,000 (from the other side this time) and people can break into cars without the old-fashioned tools of the trade. Instead they can use a text message.
Man, I want 1998 back.
The closest my old pickup ever came to having a computer on board was when I moved a Macintosh II from my parents’ house to my college apartment. These days, cars are basically computers with four tires and a steering wheel. They are drivable mobile phones. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that hackers have managed to break into a Subaru Outback using nothing but a smartphone, an app and a text message.
According to engadget, two professional hackers were able to unlock the doors and start the engine of the Subie using an Android phone.
By setting up their own GSM network, they were able to snatch up password authentication messages being sent from server to car, allowing them the option to ride off in a brand new crossover.
So now stealing cars is even easier than in 1998. Plus, instead of taking the risk of being seen in a parking lot with a crowbar, thieves can blend in among the half-million texters at the mall and simply send a text to any car they choose to take. Pretty soon seasoned thieves will be seeking the advice of tech-savvy 14-year-olds.
While I believe, for the most part, that technology makes our lives better (I love you, iMac), it’s also become clear our reliance on it has simply made us too vulnerable.
Breaking into a car shouldn’t happen at all, but certainly should never be as easy as sending a text. Right?