Auto Service World
News   January 31, 2005   by Auto Service World

Vehicle Technology May Make Them Susceptible to Virus Attacks


Even a Lexus may not be able to outrun a computer virus, if reports out of Russia prove true.
According to technology website CNET.com, Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs was asked how to disinfect the onboard computers of several Lexus models: LX470, LS430 and Landcruiser 100. The security company was told that the infection likely occurred via a mobile phone.
According to the report, mobile-phone viruses already exist, such as Cabir and Skulls, which spread by Bluetooth and infect handsets based on the Symbian operating system. Many Lexus cars include a navigation system that can connect to a mobile phone over Bluetooth to allow hands-free calls, and Kaspersky reportedly believes that Bluetooth could be used to transmit a virus to a car’s GPS navigation system.
However, it is unclear which operating system Lexus uses for its navigation system. The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“We know that car manufacturers are integrating existing operating systems into their onboard computers–take the Fiat and Microsoft deal, for instance,” Eugene Kaspersky, head of antivirus research at Kaspersky Labs told the website. “If infected mobile devices are scary, just think about an infected onboard computer.”
David Emm, senior technology consultant at Kaspersky, said it was plausible that mobile phones could infect cars.
“It’s certainly a possibility, but at this stage, it seems theoretical,” Emm said. “The question is whether (onboard computers) have been subjected to attacks from (devices running the) Symbian operating system. I suspect that this will be done with a handset.”
Kaspersky is still researching the reports.
Until two-way wireless transmissions were banned in races, Formula 1 racing cars were equipped with antivirus software to prevent virus attacks on the racecar’s operating system.


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