Every day millions of us rely on tech to protect our cars from thieves. Immobilizers, for instance, ensure only the owner of the right key fob can start the vehicle.
But now that technology has become a security threat, after hackers told Forbes they could lock down up to 25,000 cars at once. It’s all thanks to a vulnerability (now fixed) that made it frighteningly simple to quickly take remote control of a car’s immobilizer and prevent drivers from starting their vehicle.
Your car’s immobilizer is supposed to be used for good. If a crook steals your car, it’s possible for you to connect to the immobilizer, which tracks the vehicle and allows you to stop anyone from turning on the engine. But with one particular immobilizer – the U.K.-made SmarTrack tool from Global Telemetrics – an easy-to-hack vulnerability meant it was simple for researchers at Pen Test Partners to turn on the immobilizer permanently, without the customer knowing a thing.