BrandArena: Car Hacking may replace Car Jacking in the Emerging Markets

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Car Hacking may replace Car Jacking in the Emerging Markets

Just last month, 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. In Lagos Nigeria, a car parked at one of the popular shopping malls was robbed using hi tech electronics. 

The culprit was not caught. 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 Nigeria 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 Nigeria?

“Africa is experiencing a significant level of internet crime and it looks set to continue growing. With more than 49 million cyber-attacks recorded on the continent in the first quarter of last year, we can see the seriousness of the issue” said  Carmudi.

In 2013, Ghana was ranked second in Africa and seventh globally for cyber crime. The Communication Minister remarked that Ghana’s present ranking among the world’s top 10 cyber crime-prone countries is “a disincentive to investment in the country’s ICT sector.” The situation is just as bad in Nigeria, which suffered a $2.5 billion loss as a direct result of internet crime.

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