Verizon wants to smartify old cars

Hackers queue up, Humming

Car crash

Black, grey, and white hats associated with car hacking are flying in the air today, with Verizon announcing it's going to vastly expand their attack surface.

That's not what the US network operator actually says, of course. What the company has announced is that its “project hum” has gone general-availability.

Hum is designed to smartify motor vehicles as old as 1999 models, which should delight anyone who felt slighted that it was only newish Jeeps, various Euro luxury marques, and cars with vulnerable DAB radios that hackers would be interested in.

To make sure it's as well-connected as possible, the device has GPS, Bluetooth, and a port connect to the target's car's onboard diagnostics (OBD) port.

Here's what Verizon has to gush say about it: “hum provides subscribers with a self-installed solution that helps predict potential issues, prevents breakdowns, and offers protection when problems do arise. At the simple press of a button, drivers receive diagnostic information, pinpoint roadside assistance, and have live consultation with ASE-certified mechanics and emergency personnel on-demand.

“Subscribers simply install hum through an onboard diagnostic (OBD) reader that is plugged into the vehicle's OBD port, and a Bluetooth-enabled device that is clipped to the visor.”

The good news? It at least doesn't actually control anything; all it does is locate the vehicle with “pinpoint accuracy” and give it the ability to summon emergency services.

For US$14.99 a month, then, as many as 150 million vehicles can expose themselves only as far as having a capable hacker apply “swatting” techniques to victims in their cars as well as at home. ®

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