Big Brother Has the Power to Turn Off Your Car

Monday, March 22, 2010

Theresa Payton

Turn off your car?  What?

As our world becomes more automated and every day gadgets are infused with computer machinery, you are more at risk of a glitch, or worse.

Over 100 car owners in Austin, TX had the worst surprise ever recently.   Cars began behaving badly - they would not turn on or the horns were honking.

How could this happen?

Many consumers have no idea that their dealerships are installing a little black box on cars.  This little black box allows the dealerships to disable YOUR car if you fall behind on payments.  It is the modern day alternative to the Repo Man.

The culprit? Not a technology glitch but a ticked off employee who had been fired.  Police in Austin's High Tech Crime Unit arrested 20 year old, Omar Ramos-Lopez.  Police tracked him down using access logs and then tracing the traffic back to his IP address.

Martin Garcia, Texas Auto Center manager where Omar worked said, "Omar was pretty good with computers".  Really?  Maybe Mr. Garcia was taken out of context, let's hope so.

I have said it before, sometimes the greatest risk in cybersecurity is the INSIDER THREAT - from the model employee to the displaced employee.

They can put Ramos in jail but until businesses address the risk of insider threat, Ramos will not be the last.

This leaves another question open, if Ramos was able to access the system using another employee's account, what could someone with a real plan have done to immobilize drivers?

Who needs an EMP (electomagnetic pulse) to take out computer systems when you can just hack into devices?
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Fred Williams This is the reason I have resisted OnStar. I know that insurance companies are already starting to lobby to get access to OnStar data for such things as profiling risky drivers. The idea is that OnStar logs the speed you are going and insurance companies can create a profile using this data.

So, like Ramos in this story, what about disgruntled OnStar employees? What kind of damage can they do?

.. and is this what happened
Theresa Payton Fred, thanks for your comment. You bring up a great point. OnStar can be a great safety feature, but abused, it can be a way to invade your privacy. The question is, what rights are we willing to give up in the name of safety? What rights do we give up without even being asked a la the electronic blackbox repo man dealers install in cars?
Terry Perkins I'm not willing to give up any more privacy. My niece and nephews generation just takes it for granted that they have no privacy. I must be old school because I don't like those invasive technologies and believe it is our constitutional right to have privacy. Granted my cell phone can be tracked but there is nothing I can do about that. I'm not putting something in my car, though.
Theresa Payton Terry, Thanks for your comment. I agree that the younger generation does not understand privacy. In fact, they are convinced we should all be an open book. Unfortunately, they will have some tough lessons ahead.
Theresa Payton Michael, Thanks for your comment. When I try to discuss with younger people the ramifications of information about them stored online in blog posts, facebook, texts, tweets, etc. they look at me and think I'm "old school". So, I make it real for them and show them what a creepy person or prospective employer can find out about them. Gets the point across!
Jack Smith For cybersecurity insider threat is very much greater than external. There is need to track these internal conflicts and stay away them from sensitive operations. And it shows that our privacy is at stakes.
Maxy Desoza They have no right to install the black box electronics without asking the customer. It would be a good idea if they just warn drivers before.
hotelogix hotel management system Its very unfortunate to see that someone is capable of turning off your car
Lisa Williams yes id really unfair with customer to install the black box electronics without their permission.

I think customer should clam for this.
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lafseo wify Few will take issue with green technology that conserves fuel, saves them money, and reduces pollution. However, there is a dark side to the patent application that privacy advocates will not like. The system IBM is proposing has to have access to the engine of the vehicles at the light to stop the engine.
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