Carmudi examines why Pakistan should be concerned about car hacking
A little while back, Wired released an article about two security specialists who commandeered a Jeep Cherokee’s onboard computers, and took control of the air conditioner, windshield wipers, and most terrifying, the accelerator and brakes. More recently, Volkswagen lost a two-year battle to suppress files about how hi-tech criminals are able to hack into their vehicles electronically. These news stories are leading motorists to ask the question: just how safe are modern vehicles? Carmudi, the safest way to sell or buy your car online, examines why Pakistan should be concerned about car hacking.
Car hacking is a type of internet crime where criminals can seize control of a vehicle from their laptops, sometimes from across the country. With rapidly developing in-car technologies, vehicles are increasingly vulnerable to hacks, particularly the keyless entry hack and the UConnect hack.
The keyless entry hack is a popular car exploit which works by intercepting radio signals to lock and unlock car doors. The hacker grabs the code and resends it to the car alarm. Voila! Open sesame. The criminals can proceed to take any valuables they find inside the car. The UConnect hack, works by gaining access to the car’s internal network via the Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling the firmware to be completely re-written in order to grant access to the car’s physical controls, making the car steer wildly, speed up or slow down and even blow out its tires.
Car hacking is a growing problem in developed countries, particularly in the UK, where last year, 6000 vehicles were stolen using the keyless entry hack in London alone. But, is car hacking relevant in Pakistan
Organized Internet Crime and Car Hacking in the Emerging Markets
Car hacking is not relevant in Asia and Africa, at least for now. With an average selling price of $55,000, internet connected vehicles are out of reach for most car buyers in the emerging world.
Car theft is a real problem in Pakistan where initiatives from the government and the private sector have failed to put a brake on vehicle crime. According to the Islamabad Police report on car theft: “Every year around 11000 vehicles worth Rs.2.00 billion are stolen in Pakistan.” The report also says that Toyota and Suzuki brands are the most stolen cars but to our surprise it is not because these are the most popular models. It is, as the report suggests, mainly due to their easily manipulable locking system which pose no real obstacle to professional car-thieves. As per a crime report issued by the government, concerning the year 2008 – 2013, there has been a phenomenal rise in crimes all over Pakistan. Around 171,713 vehicles, worth over Rs85 billion, were stolen/snatched throughout the country during these five years. According to a recent news, more than 15,500 vehicles have been stolen/snatched away from different parts of Punjab alone during the first seven months of 2014, while another source reports there has been a 50 percent increase in car thefts.
Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia has overtaken China to become the number one source of cyber-attack traffic, according to a report by internet monitoring company Akamai. The country accounted for 38% of hacking-related traffic, a figure that has almost doubled since the beginning of this year. Last year the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group recorded 614 cybercrime incidents, compared to 2013 where there were only 288 incidents.
“As users take on the internet of things, many daily use gadgets become connected including our cars and obviously we become more and more vulnerable to third parties taking control. Car hacking is a new concept and given the low number of internet-connected vehicles on roads in Pakistan. Although I think there is sometime before such technologies become widespread in Pakistan and before it does we must exercise caution” said Raja Murad Khan, Managing Director at Carmudi.
Carmudi was founded in 2013 and is currently available in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Zambia. The vehicle marketplace offers buyers, sellers and car dealers the ideal platform to find cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles online.