Hacking Targets Multiply

As everything from cars to electricity meters gets hooked up to the Internet or cellphone networks, it isn’t just PCs that are vulnerable to cyberattacks, security researchers and government officials warn.

“The number of these networked devices has skyrocketed in the past two years,” said Don Bailey, of cyber-security firm iSec Partners, who has been studying the vulnerability problem along with colleague Mathew Solnik. “They aren’t just in automotive systems but in security systems, industrial control systems, medical devices.”

At a conference in August the two iSec researchers demonstrated how they could unlock and start a car by sending certain text messages to the car’s alarm system. The researchers said the real problem isn’t the possibility that hackers will start stealing cars. The ramifications are much broader. The same basic approach could be used by hackers to disrupt businesses or vital services.

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