It reads like a scene pulled from a bad techno-thriller: a gang of hackers use a smart phone to remotely unlock and start up a car’s engine, stealing the automobile without ever having to pick a lock. Unfortunately for Subaru owners, fantasy has become reality. This past week, a team of computer security researchers demonstrated their ability to use an Android phone to command a Subaru Outback to open its door locks and start its ignition.
The demonstration was done at the Black Hat convention, which is a meeting of computer security professionals that takes places in Las Vegas. The Black Hat Technical Security Conference has been a gathering point for those on both sides of the computer security fence – hackers looking to exploit weaknesses in information systems, and professionals trained to plug potential network holes – since 1997.