Now There’s Car Hacking

Last week, reporter Michael Hastings, whose story for Rolling Stone brought down General Stanley McChrystal, died when his car crashed into a tree and caught fire.

That alone raised eyebrows.

Now his last email has been released and it makes you scratch your head, too, about how and why this happened. According to Huffington Post the email read:

Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA

Hey (redacted names) — the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “BuzzFeed GQ,” er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit.

All the best, and hope to see you all soon.

Shepard Ambellas writes at

It is now widely speculated that Hastings was possibly murdered by remote takeover of his car’s controls. In fact a new report from the University of California shows that vehicles are prone to hack attacks and could pose a safety risk.

John Markoff reporting for the New York Times wrote, “Their latest study was the first time that independent computer security researchers have tried to show how potential attackers could hack into a car from a remote location.

As in their first experiment, the research teams bought a car they described as a representative example of a moderately priced sedan. (They declined to identify the brand, saying that advanced telematics are rapidly becoming commonplace within the automotive industry.)

“In the case of every major manufacturer, if they do not have this capacity in their mainstream products, they’re about to,” said Tadayoshi Kohno, an assistant professor in the department of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington.

For example, services like General Motors’ OnStar system, Toyota’s Safety Connect, Lexus’s Enform, Ford’s Sync, BMW’s Assist and Mercedes Benz’s Mbrace all use a cellular connection embedded in the vehicle to provide a variety of automated and call center support services to a driver. These subscription services make it possible to track a car’s location, unlock doors remotely and control other functions.

In their remote experiment, the researchers were able to undermine the security protecting the cellular phone in the vehicle they bought and then insert malicious software. This allowed them to send commands to the car’s electronic control unit — the nerve center of a vehicle’s electronics system — which in turn made it possible to override various vehicle controls.

“These cellular channels offer many advantages for attackers,” the report said. “They can be accessed over arbitrary distance (due to the wide coverage of cellular data infrastructure) in a largely anonymous fashion, typically have relatively high bandwidth, are two-way channels (supporting interactive control and data exfiltration), and are individually addressable.”

Others such as YouTuber, Mark Dice, have chimed in on this issue as well. Dice outlined in a recent video how it has been public knowledge for over 2 years that vehicle hacking is possible.

Dice offered his opinion on the Michael Hastings situation in the video by asking the question: “Did the feds hack into his (Michael Hastings) car crashing it into a tree head-on?”

You have to wonder. In a world where all our telephone conversations and emails are kept in special places in Utah; where the IRS is finding out about people and using the information to penalize them; where smart meters in homes will let others know all you are up to; why wouldn’t the government do this, too?

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