Car thieves using screwdrivers and crowbars to break into and steal your cars could soon be a thing of the past.
Gadgets used to operate cars in films like James Bond have now become a reality.
Computer hackers are using technology to force some cars to unlock their doors and start their engines without a key by sending specially crafted messages to a car’s anti-theft system.
Thieves can also find out your whereabouts by tapping the car’s GPS system.
It has been made possible because car alarms, GPS systems and other devices are increasingly connected to cellular telephone networks and can receive commands through text messaging, which allows owners to change settings on devices remotely, but it also gives hackers a way in.
Computer security consultant, Matthew Solnik said: “By doing that, we connect to your car, send it certain commands and those commands include ‘unlock’, ‘start’. Just about anything we’d like to do we can do to your car.”
Texts are powerful because the devices that receive them cannot refuse the information they carry. Users cannot block texts, only the operators of phone networks.
Before buying a car, customers should ask some key questios said another security consultant, Don Bailey: “Talk to the person that you buy your car from or the person that designed your security model and make sure that they are aware of these issues and say, ‘what are you doing to protect me, the consumer, from these types of threats?”
Experts say only the alarm systems connected to the web can be accessed by hackers, but this development proves that older alarm systems can be safer than the new ones.
Car manufacturers say they are working hard to solve the problem.