• Security engineers  have  managed to hack the software in a Toyota Prius
  • The U.S  Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funded the  hack

By  Victoria Woollaston

PUBLISHED: 11:30 EST, 25  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 11:31 EST, 25 July 2013

Forget hacking accounts, computers or mobile  devices – security engineers from Indiana have managed to hack the software inside  the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape.

Using a laptop wirelessly connected to the  car’s electronics, Charlie Miller and  Chris Valasek were able to remotely  control the brakes, the accelerate, change the speedometer, switch the  headlights on and off, tighten the seatbelts and even blast the horn.

The project was funded by a grant from the  U.S Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to highlight the security risks  affecting modern-day cars.

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A pair of engineers from Indiana have managed to hack the software that runs the electronics in a 2010 Toyota Prius and Ford Escape, pictured, so that the brakes, steering, speedometer and the car's electronics can be controlled remotely using a laptop 

Engineers from Indiana have managed to hack the software  that runs the electronics in a 2010 Toyota Prius and Ford Escape, pictured, so  that the brakes, steering, speedometer and the car’s electronics can be  controlled remotely using a laptop

WHAT DID THE ENGINEERS  REMOTELY CONTROL?

Commands included:

Remotely honking the horn.

Accelerating and braking.

Turning headlights on and off.

Tightening the seatbelts.

Disabling power steering.

Changing the speedometer and petrol gauge.

Preventing the car from powering down so to  drain the battery.

Miller, a security engineer at Twitter, and  Valasek, Director of Security Intelligence at IOActive, are due to officially  announce their findings at the Def Con 21 conference in Vegas the weekend of the  1-3 August.

 

However, they have given Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg a preview by taking  him for a test ride in their hijacked vehicle.

According to Greenberg, the majority of  American car manufacturers provide a mobile or Wi-Fi network in their vehicles.

Many cars additionally come with built-in  software that runs on an operating system in a similar way to phones and  computers.

These include the 2010 models of the Ford  Escape running the Ford SYNC software, and the Toyota Prius’ Safety  Connect.

By hacking this network and exploiting  Bluetooth bugs this software becomes hackable and makes it possible to send  remote code executions from a mobile device.

Remote code executions let people remotely  control the car’s features.

Miller and Valasek were able to hack Toyota's on-board Safety Connect software and remotely control the accelerator, brakes, horn, headlights and even seatbelts using just a MacBook 

Miller and Valasek were able to hack Toyota’s on-board  Safety Connect software and remotely control the accelerator, brakes, horn,  headlights and even seatbelts using just a MacBook

During his hour-long test drive, Miller and  Valasek demonstrated to Greenberg they could send commands from their laptop to  accelerate to high speeds before slamming the brakes on.

The pair also disabled the power steering,  tricked the GPS into thinking it was in a different location, adjusted the  speedometer and honk the horn –  all remotely.

The steering, for example, was hacked by  exploiting the Toyota and Ford’s self-parking features.

Toyota said ‘it isn’t impressed’ with Miller  and Valasek’s hack and claimed its systems were robust and secure.

A Ford spokesman said they were taking the  hack ‘very seriously’.

Researchers from the University of Washington  and the University of California, San Diego were the first to publish findings  into hacking software in cars in 2010.

Valasek told Greenberg: ‘Academics have shown you can get remote code  execution. We showed you can do a lot of crazy things once you’re  inside.’

VIDEO: Forbes’ Andy Greenberg takes a test  ride in the hacked car

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