Hackers Cut A Corvette’s Brakes Wirelessly To Prove It Could Happen To Your Car, Too

By  | Consumerist 

General Motors gets to join Fiat Chrysler and Tesla in an unenviable lineup this week: Using cheap gadgets and text messages, researchers have proven they can hack that most traditional of cars, the Chevy Corvette. And worse still is that this line of attack will work on basically any car with a computer in it, which is to say… all of them.

As Wired explains, the flaw that would allow anyone to zap your car over a local wifi network first requires a physical component: you, or someone else, has to put a cheap, widely-available gadget in the vehicle first. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: plenty of drivers are signing up to put those gadgets in their vehicles already. And the worse: the attack could also work on “practically any other modern vehicle.”

The gadget is a 2-inch-square dongle that insurance companies and trucking fleets plug into vehicles to monitor their location, speed, and efficiency.The particular vulnerable device is made by a French company and distributed worldwide. In the U.S., it’s used by corporations like Metromile, an insurance start-up that uses the trackers to charge customers rates on a miles-driven basis. (The company has a partnership with Uber, to offer discount insurance to those drivers.)

The security researchers demonstrated that those dongles can be vulnerable to a “carefully-crafted SMS message.” Those messages can be used to transmit commands to the car’s internal network, the CAN bus that controls major vehicle functions.

In their demonstration, the researchers turned the windshield wipers on and off and also, more worryingly, both activated and cut the brakes. They added that the brake tricks only work at low speeds due to safety features built into the car’s computer, but that they could also hijack critical features like locks, steering, and transmission.

As with other demonstrated security flaws, the problem is far larger than just one device. This particular dongle is already being patched, but there are others out there — and where vulnerabilities exist, someone will find and exploit them.

Insurance company Progressive offers an optional similar tracking to its customers. Commercial fleets regularly use some kind of tracker. And federal fleets of 20 vehicles or more are now also required to use metric and tracking systems to improve efficiencies when possible.

In other words, unsafe, exploitable devices are already out there, and will be everywhere soon. It’s just one more avenue where every consumer needs to be aware of the risk, and where every company needs to do everything it can to make sure its bases are covered.

Hackers Cut a Corvette’s Brakes Via a Common Car Gadget [Wired]

If the risks of driving are removed, will there be any need for motor insurance?

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According to some insurance industry reports, some insurers view car-sharing services as high risk and may cancel or refuse to renew a driver’s policy.

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Grand theft auto – it could happen to you

By Barrie Advance

Some cars are stolen to provide fast cash to enterprising criminals. Others are actually targeted for transport and resale to those who can afford to pay the price in western Africa. But those are more the exceptions than the rule.

The reason most cars are targeted — and stolen — is because of opportunity. The owner, in a moment when their brain cramped, forgot to lock the vehicle or completely close a window, making the two tons of metal on wheels a relatively easy target.

If you are targeted by any nefarious individual, then about all you can do is hope that your insurance policy is current — and paid up.

Long story short: all vehicles are always at risk of being targeted by thieves. Even so, there are things motorists can do to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the possibility of becoming another unfortunate statistic. As an aside, were you aware that the majority of stolen vehicles are used to commit secondary crimes?

While there are many things people can do to steer clear of car thieves, the statistics show that criminals are experiencing quite a bit of success when it comes to separating people from their rides. In fact, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a car is stolen, on average, every three and a half minutes in Canada, which adds up to about 420 cars per day. Auto theft is estimated to cost Canadians $600 million annually.

Steering wheel locks and immobilizers will help to make cars less attractive to would-be vehicle thieves. Fortunately, there other best practices that can tip the scales in favour of car owners. For example, CAA South Central Ontario suggests the following tips to help prevent car theft:

•    Lock doors, and don’t leave the key in the ignition.
•    Don’t leave your car running unattended.
•    Keep all valuables out of sight; place shopping bags and laptops in the trunk, as well as electronics and accessories, or carry them when leaving the car.
•    Completely close windows and sunroofs.
•    Have an alarm system installed. The noise alone may be enough to scare away a thief and prevent a break-in.
•    Always park in a busy, well-lit area or in a garage.

In the unfortunate event your car is stolen and your insurance company considers it a write off (for whatever reason), you may well be in the market for a new set of wheels. Consider the online resources of AutoCatch.comto source a reliable replacement.

Source: www.simcoe.com

As technology advances, cars are becoming much safer

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Aluminum-sided Ford F-150 gets mixed crash test results from insurance industry

By Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press

DETROIT – Ford’s new aluminum-sided F-150 pickup saw mixed results in new crash tests by the insurance industry, and the damaged trucks cost more to repair than steel-bodied ones.

The four-door Super Crew version of the 2015 F-150 got top ratings in all five of the crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For now, it is the only full-size truck on the market with the institute’s “Top Safety Pick” rating.

But the Super Cab version, which has a smaller rear door and back seat, did poorly in a small front overlap test, which slams 25 per cent of the front of the truck into a barrier at 40 miles per hour. It didn’t earn the top safety award.

The Insurance Institute also said it took longer for a local Ford dealer to repair the aluminum truck than an older steel one, and the aluminum parts cost more. The institute said the repair costs were 26 per cent higher for the aluminum-bodied truck.

In a statement, Ford said the new truck is the “safest F-150 ever” and noted that it has the government’s highest five-star safety rating. But the company said it will make a design change in the 2016 model year to improve the crash performance of the Super Cab and Regular Cab models.

Ford said the Super Crew — which got the top safety award — accounts for 83 per cent of all F-150 sales. The Super Cab makes up around 12 per cent and the Regular Cab accounts for 5 per cent.

Ford spokesman Mike Levine also said independent consultants have shown that average repair costs for the new truck are less than for the old truck.

The results are a key test for Ford, which switched from steel to aluminum for the body of the truck late last year. The switch makes the truck lighter and nimbler and saves fuel, but it was risky, since the F-150 is the first mass-market vehicle make such a change. The F-150 has been the bestselling vehicle in the U.S. for more than three decades.

David Zuby, IIHS’s chief research officer, said the organization tested the F-150 first because there is so much interest in the aluminum body. Competitors from Chevrolet, Toyota and others will be tested this fall, he said. The small front overlap test was added in 2012, he said, so the F-150 was the first truck to go through it.

Zuby said the aluminum on the F-150 was strong and safe and performed well. Differences in the steel frame under the aluminum resulted in the different test outcomes. The Super Crew version had extra, horn-like pieces of steel fitted to the front of the frame to help the vehicle absorb the force of the small overlap crash. The Super Cab and the two-door Regular cab — which the institute didn’t test — don’t have those extra pieces of steel, but will get them in 2016 versions.

The Super Cab truck got “good” ratings on four other tests, including roof strength, side impact and a moderate frontal test, which hits a larger portion of the vehicle into a deformable barrier that’s meant to replicate another vehicle. But in the small overlap test, the front compartment crumpled and the crash dummy’s head missed the side air bags and hit the instrument panel.

Ford’s trucks didn’t get the institute’s highest safety rating — “Top Safety Pick Plus” — because they don’t have automatic braking systems to prevent collisions. They do have a front collision warning system, but it doesn’t have automatic braking.

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