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Ex-worker blamed for car immobilisation hack

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A disgruntled worker allegedly caused chaos after he hacked into a vehicle immobilisation system and remotely disabled cars, Wired reports.

More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas were stuck with immobilised cars or horns blaring out of control, after an intruder last month ran amok on a system normally used to warn customers who are behind on their auto repayment plans.

The incident was initially blamed on a systems failure before checks pointed towards manipulation of the Webtech Plus system used by Texas Auto Center as an alternative to using repo men. The problem was only resolved after the Texas dealership reset passwords. In the interim, many drivers were left seriously inconvenienced and some had to call tow-trucks.

Dealers who use Webtech Plus fit a small hardware unit under car dashboards. Commands issued through a website and relayed through a wireless pager network allow dealerships to disable the ignition system or start the horn.

The case was turned over to Texas police who arrested Omar Ramos-Lopez, 20, laid off by the car dealer last month, on suspicion of mounting the hack and charged him with computer intrusion on Tuesday. Ramos-Lopez came under suspicion after the police examined access logs, tracing unauthorised access back to an IP address maintained by Ramos-Lopez. ®

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