Defense Dept. shocking cyber carjacking may help secure the Internet

When you get behind the wheel of new model GM car, you’re driving a computer — a computer that’s connected to the world through GM’s OnStar system.

And anything that’s connected can be hacked.

That’s exactly what Dan Kaufman, who heads up the government Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Information Innovation Office, set out to prove to “60 Minutes”.

Taking control of a vehicle driven by correspondent Lesley Stahl, Kaufman remotely commanded the vehicle to turn on its wipers, honked the horn, and even disabled the brakes — all from a laptop computer. The computer could be anywhere, using the Internet to access the car through OnStar.

From televisions to refrigerators to coffee makers, the “Internet of Things” is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

A year ago, Google paid $3.2 billion for online thermostat maker Nest, which now also makes connected smoke alarms, accessible from anywhere.

Kwikset sells a connected deadbolt lock for your home called Kevo, which allows you to open your doors through the Internet, and detects you as you approach your home using your smartphone.

All of these innovations create ever larger privacy and security challenges.
But DARPA has a point to its disturbing digital carjacking. According to CBS, “DARPA is working to invent ‘unhackable software’ for small devices, which could solve security problems for many ‘Internet of Things’ devices.”

The project affects more than just cars – the military wants to secure its drones.

In 2011, Iran claimed that it hacked an American RS-170 Sentinal drone, as reported by the BBC. If DARPA can find a better way to secure American military assets, perhaps we can all benefit from its research.

After all, DARPA invented the Internet. It’s only fitting that they keep it safe for us.




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