It seems like a each new day now brings more news of the hackable exploits of the automobile. Jeep saw a vehicle accessed through the infotainment system. The Tesla Model S had an open flaw, but that was quickly closed up. Now comes word that pretty much any OBD-II-era (1996-present) vehicle can be hacked in some manner, if that car is equipped with a common dongle that plugs into that port.

A research team from the University of California San Diego discovered this exploit, and demonstrated what's possible once you're connected to the car. They could remotely turn the wipers on and off, which isn't very scary. Activating and disabling the brakes though, is a bit more terrifying. The team says they could only achieve this at slow speeds but many other systems were vulnerable. A Corvette was used for the demonstration but it's not the Corvette specifically that's vulnerable. It's a car with an OBD-II port currently being occupied by a wireless dongle.

ALSO SEE: Excavator Callously Destroys Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: Video

Don't freak out if you don't have that dongle. Don't freak out at the word dongle, even though it's a strange one to say. The UCSD research team found that vehicles equipped with the aforementioned equipment are hackable. The devices are used for vehicle tracking purposes so that companies like taxi or delivery services can keep an eye on their fleets. A mobile device plugs into the OBD-II port and can relay mileage and GPS data back to the office.

To do this, the small device gains access to the CAN bus. This is the part of a vehicle that allows all of the interconnected devices to talk to each other. The engine and transmission will communicate with each other, the power steering system, the safety systems, and the brakes also want to join in on the conversation. A modern vehicle could have over a hundred systems all talking to each other. If you were able to hack into the CAN bus, you could then control the conversation, so to speak.

For the time being, though, it appears that hackers are controlling the automotive conversation.


Follow Motor Authority on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.