Hackers Claim to Remotely Unlock, Start Subaru Outback

We've all heard reports of tech-savvy thieves stealing automatic garage door codes to take lawnmowers and bicycles. Apparently, now they want your car, too.

At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, two security researchers have reportedly demonstrated how they could, using an Android-powered phone, steal password authentication messages to unlock and start the engine of a Subaru Outback crossover. It reportedly took just a few hours for them to break in.

While these researchers might be able to start an Outback, it seems like driving it away could be another matter. The optional remote start system for automatic-transmission Outbacks is available for $359.95, but systems like this require the key to be in the car to put it in gear.

Michael McHale, Subaru's director of corporate communications, wouldn't comment on whether this type of breach is possible, having not observed the claimed hack, but he said an attack like this could affect other brands.

"I don't think it's a Subaru situation," McHale said. "I think the same technology would work on most cars on the market." The researchers said they won't provide specifics about their breach until manufacturers have a chance to upgrade their systems.

The thought of thieves unlocking and starting a car without a key would probably strike most car owners as near-impossible. As cars increasingly become rolling computers, though, it makes them prime targets for hackers. Maybe it's time for an old-school security solution: the Club.

Source: TG Daily via Engadget

By Mike Hanley | August 5, 2011 | Comments (4)


Amuro Ray

Oh, didn't I start commenting 'bou sthg like this like, what, 2 or more years ago, here in kickingtires?

The scary part is not to steal your vehicle. It's just a chuck of metals.

It's to steal all your important info from your, say, Ford Touch system, or U-connect, etc. Once u start your vehicle, you are logged in to the onboard infotainment system. If you do online banking or stuff like that, it can be traceable from the system too. Those are way more valuable than your vehicle...


and this is the reason that automakers need to stop computerizing vehicles. not only does it allow people to steal the vehicle and possibly your information, but it is also a huge distraction from driving. one day soon, we could be hearing about car viruses!

Matt C.

Best solution is to not buy these systems. The more things you can do remotely with a vehicle computer system, the more holes you leave open. Same goes for smart phones and laptops. You don't need to have your house broken into to get cleaned out anymore.

Ken L.

I guess someone of you should not be cheering for EVs or PHEVs so hard anymore since almost all of them are loaded to the gills with keyless this and touchless that.

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