Researchers warn of virus dangers in vehicles' computer systems

| 8/9/2005

If you thought preventing all those nasty viruses and spyware from taking over your computer was a pain, just wait until they infect your truck.

So far, four-wheelers and trucks alike have been relatively immune to malicious computer attacks. But as vehicle manufacturers begin allowing owners to input information and data into multimedia-capable vehicle computers, the chances for a dangerous auto virus grow, according to a new study from technology researchers at Kaspersky Lab in Russia.

Yevgeni Kaspersky, head of antivirus research at the lab, told Reuters that the biggest potential weakness is Bluetooth – a short-range wireless technology common in cell phones and PDAs – that is beginning to make its way into cars as a way to transfer music and movies.

“I'm afraid there is a risk in using a Bluetooth connection in cars,” Kaspersky said. “If the smart phones and on-board computers have the same channel to transfer the data … sooner or later the hackers will find the vulnerability in the operating systems of on-board computers and … will definitely use it.”

Kaspersky was quick to point out that no viruses have emerged in automobiles. However, he cautioned that viruses like Cabir – a mobile phone virus that can be transferred over Bluetooth and has spread to 20 different countries – is a prime example of how wireless technology could invade our mobile lifestyles.

Despite the researchers’ warnings, car manufacturers and antivirus software makers are cautiously optimistic that vehicles will remain safe from widespread outbreaks for the foreseeable future.

“The (auto virus) market is still in the beginning,” Guido Sanchidrian, mobile virus specialist for antivirus software maker Symantec, told CNN. “The threat landscape is not there yet like it is in Windows.”