Hiroyuki Inoue, an association professor at Hiroshima City University’s Graduate School of Information Sciences has demonstrated that cars equipped with devices connected to the internet can be hacked and controlled remotely through smartphones.
Professor Inoue said that his experiment demonstrated that he was able to remotely open and close car windows, display an incorrect speedometer reading and freeze a car’s accelerator. He added that the effects do not directly apply to cars currently on the market as their computers have no internet access, but that cars privately altered and equipped with internet devices could be hacked.
The findings of the experiment are likely to be of interest to Japanese car manufacturers which are developing internet-linked technologies such as self-driving vehicles.
For his experiments, the professor used a 2013 Toyota Corolla Fielder Hybrid, a Wi-Fi device he assembled with commercially available parts costing about ¥10,000 and a smartphone app he developed to remotely control the vehicle.
By connecting the Wi-Fi device to a terminal located under the steering wheel he succeeded in gaining access to unencrypted data in the car’s computer that controls the engine, brakes and other functions. Inoue said of the findings that:
“Important (data) communication was in full view from outside. Other cars could also be subject to hacking in the same way.”
Following his discovery, Inoue called for the encryption of onboard data and to take other steps to protect a car’s systems from unwanted access.
An official at the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said the industry will work on measures to deal with the issue by cooperating with the government.
Toyota said it will continue making efforts to enhance information security.