Texting, grand theft auto style; alarms pose risk

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Associated Press

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 4:30 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 19 at 4:33 AM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Those high tech alarm systems for cars may not be as secure as vehicle owners think.

Computer hackers can force some cars to unlock their doors and start their engines without a key by sending specially crafted text messages to a car's anti-theft system.

Car alarms, GPS systems and other devices are increasingly connected to cellular telephone networks and thus can receive commands through text messaging.

Researchers from iSEC Partners recently demonstrated such an attack.

Texts are a powerful means of attack because the devices that receive them generally cannot refuse texts and the commands encoded in them.

These devices are assigned phone numbers just like fax machines. Finding the secret phone number gives hackers a way in.

Actually stealing a car wouldn't be so easy but the research is unsettling because it shows that such attacks are possible.

%(at)AP Links

154-a-11-(By Don Andrew Bailey, senior security consultant, iSEC Partners, in AP interview)-"types of threats"-Security expert Don Andrew Bailey says consumers should find out what automakers are doing to secure their systems. ((note quality of audio)) (19 Aug 2011)

<<CUT *154 (08/19/11)>> 00:11 "types of threats"

153-a-11-(By Mathew Solnik, security consultant, iSEC Partners, in AP interview)-"to your car"-Security expert Mathew Solnik says a connection between a laptop and devices on the celllular network can give thieves access to your car. (19 Aug 2011)

<<CUT *153 (08/19/11)>> 00:11 "to your car"

152-a-13-(By Mathew Solnik, security consultant, iSEC Partners, in AP interview)-"the cellular network"-Security expert Mathew Solnik says new cars are vulnerable to thieves with a little computer know-how. (19 Aug 2011)

<<CUT *152 (08/19/11)>> 00:13 "the cellular network"

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