On May 31st, 2018, Michigan Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel was the victim of an unfortunate crime. At about 4:00 AM that morning, a thief broke into Hackel’s car, stealing his lawfully registered 40-caliber semi-automatic Glock from his car’s central console. If it wasn’t for his neighbor tipping him off, however, he may have never known to check his car – there were no signs of a break-in, after all.
Thanks to a recording of the incident on his security camera, Hackel was able to discern the nature of the crime. Using a device to mimic the signal from the car’s key fob, the perpetrator was able to easily unlock the vehicle and get inside. This type of hack is unfortunately rather common – with several incidents of luxury vehicles being broken into in this exact same fashion. The issue comes with the added features one gets access to with a higher-end vehicle, such as remote starting and climate control capabilities. Any interface that allows a vehicle to communicate with a device outside of its chassis has the potential to be exploited and abused, putting the vehicle and its owner at risk.
This incident serves as a stark reminder of the looming danger that is automotive cyber-crime. While the vast majority of the public isn’t aware of the threat, it is slowly making itself a reality by preying on those unaware vehicle owners vulnerable to such exploitation. With even a county executive falling victim to such a crime, the public can no longer ignore the fact that this threat is already at their doorsteps. The fight against car hackers is not a new one, however. With improved community awareness and cutting-edge innovations in the automotive cybersecurity field from Trillium, the fight against automotive cyber-terrorism is far from an unwinnable one.