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Friday, August 5, 2011

Is war texting a threat to Saab ?

Recently several news servers reports that IT security engineers have been able to open and start a car through an SMS. The name of this technique, War texting, references to a popular thing called War driving. War drivers were driving around cities with laptops, searching for vulnerable Wifi networks and cracking them.

The only one named car brand which has been opened and started via SMS is Subaru Outback. Does it mean, Outback drivers have now a worse sleep ? No, because war texting appears to be a very complex technique usable mostly by very skilled IT security guys. If thieves would be that skilled, they wouldn't be thieves.

The authors of war texting didn't disclosed any other car brand, but reports say, that this could be a widespread problem, because car makers are using simillar or identical communication technologies in their cars. One of the most visible is OnStar RemoteLink (not used in Europe as far as I know), used by newser GM models and simillar software is used by BMW or Mercedes.

What about Saab ? Since Saab is a former daughter of GM, it could be a threat. But looking at the most stolen car brands report in 2010 completely different brands needs to respond to this threat. This is one of the big competitive advantages of Saab - it's very low on radar of thieves. In Europe not many Saabs, if any, are communicating through telecom networks.

A different story is the planned Android-based iQon system being developed by Saab for future vehicles. Not in production these days, it is not a threat. But Saab should look closer at this, to make it as secure as possible against war texting when (if) it comes into real cars.

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