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Hackers Demonstrate How Easy it is to Carjack a Vehicle Remotely

Demonstration supports theory that journalist Michael Hastings car was remotely hijacked

Adan Salazar
July 25, 2013

Forbes Magazine has produced a short video report demonstrating how easy it is for computer hackers to assume control of a vehicle remotely, a fascinating revelation in light of theories claiming Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings may have been assassinated using remote carjacking technology already well within the government’s disposal.

Forbes journalist Andy Greenburg recently met with two hackers who re-wired a Toyota Prius to be controlled via an Apple MacBook. Once the pair of hackers attached to the correct set of ports, they were able to input commands spoofing the car’s various sensors, making it to perform a wide range of seemingly impossible stunts.

“They sent commands from their laptops that killed power steering, spoofed the GPS and made pathological liars out of speedometers and odometers,” wrote Greenberg. “Finally they directed me out to a country road, where Valasek showed that he could violently jerk the Prius’ steering at any speed, threatening to send us into a cornfield or a head-on collision.”

Map outlines a few of the features that can be controlled via computer commands. / image courtesy of Forbes Magazine.

Map outlines a few of the features that can be controlled via computer commands. / Image courtesy of Forbes Magazine.

One of the digital carjackers, Chris Valasek, 31, is a director of security intelligence at the Seattle computer security services consulting firm IOActive, a company specializing in industrial smart grid technologies and software assurance. The company recently received an $80,000 grant from the Department of Defense’s DARPA program to “root out security vulnerabilities in automobiles,” according to Greenburg.

“Imagine you’re driving down a highway at 80,” Valasek says. “You’re going into the car next to you or into oncoming traffic. That’s going to be bad times.”

The hackers are also able to kill or initiate the car’s brakes and control the car’s horn and headlights, as well as tighten the passengers’ and driver’s seat belts at will.

Despite the relative ease by which the hackers are able to take command of the vehicle, car companies have remained virtually silent regarding their automobiles’ potential to be remotely accessed and manipulated.

The hackers’ road test not only highlights the serious vulnerabilities built-in to modern cars, it also lends credence to statements made by Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke.

As learned last month, Clarke told The Huffington Post that Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings’ car crash was “consistent with a car cyber attack.”

“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke told The Huffington Post. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard.”

“I’m not a conspiracy guy. In fact, I’ve spent most of my life knocking down conspiracy theories,” said Clarke. “But my rule has always been you don’t knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it . And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyber attack. And the problem with that is you can’t prove it.”

33-year-old BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings died in a fiery car wreck in Hollywood on June 20 when his Mercedes C250 Coupe allegedly hit a tree at high speed, supposedly causing his engine to fly out 100 feet from the site of the crash.

Friends of Hastings say the circumstances surrounding his death don’t add up as he drove “like a grandma,” making the explanation that he would barrel down the road in the middle of the night at high speed highly suspicious.

According to one of his books, Hastings had been the target of multiple death threats following his coverage of the war in Afghanistan, which ultimately led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.

The deceased writer is said to have been working on his “biggest story yet” about the CIA, according to his close friend Staff Sgt. Joe Biggs.




New SARS-Like Coronavirus Suspected at New York Hospital

May 21, 2013, an online discussion forum created in 2005 to track the potential threat of an avian flu pandemic, has been the venue for a serious discussion regarding the new SARS-like coronavirus infecting patients at a New York Hospital leaving several in critical condition and resulting in 3 deaths.

The new SARS-like coronavirus recently emerged in the Middle East infecting 41 total worldwide resulting in 20 deaths and is primarily spread by limited human-to-human transmission. Experts fear that the virus’ early ability to transmit among humans could spark a global pandemic should the virus mutate further and achieve sustained human transmission.

Nurses working at a St. Luke’s hospital in New York have claimed that there are several cases of the new SARS-like virus in the hospital’s ICU, which have gone misdiagnosed and that are in fact the new deadly virus.

A nurse who works at the hospital believes there is a potential outbreak of this new SARS-like virus and she too has now been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. Although hospital administrators have made no comment about this matter, posters on the online message board at have indicated through research that it is influenza B. The nurses are disputing that claim stating that in fact the new coronavirus is the culprit.

The nurses feel that they have an obligation to speak-out about their suspicions in this matter.

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