Sunday, December 14, 2008

OnStar and Bad Guys

There's a new technology that OnStar is going to roll out which allows the cops to ask OnStar to stop a fleeing vehicle. I heard the story on FoxNews this weekend while driving from Dallas to Wisconsin. Here's a link to the story on ABC News.

The gist of the story is that GM can program the computer in the car to respond to a request from OnStar to set the engine speed to idle, regardless of the inputs from inside the car. Pretty cool.

I like OnStar. I've used it to unlock the truck when I've locked the keys inside (yep, I did that once; no, twice). I even had a weird backfire on the Interstate in the middle of Nebraska once. I called OnStar and they downloaded the engine diagnostics and told me that it was no big deal.

In Dallas some years back, the Dallas PD started a program in which you put a sticker on your car, and that sticker allowed the cops to stop the car and search it if seen on the road between 1am and 5am. If you're a regular 9-5er, and you come home from the bars before closing time, it seems like a good idea to allow the cops to stop that guy that stole your car at 3am. I supported the program, and I think the OnStar feature is a good one...


Hey, I've been in the computer business for 28 years. I've seen a lot of bad code, and a lot of hackers. I guarantee you that if OnStar turns this on, then the carjackers and the code hackers are going to get together and hack this system. I can see it now: You're out on a back road headed home one night, a car comes up behind you, you hit the gas, and...nothing. The bad guys have hacked OnStar and you're lucky to be walking home (if you're not shot). I think this is a bad idea...but that's not going to stop it. Besides, we need a good car chase now and then to distract us from bailouts, corrupt governors, and shoe-throwers.

You heard it here long will it take the bad guys to hack OnStar? I give it 6 months.

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