PCM11: The Shocking Truth About What Hackers Can Do To Your Car

The auto industry’s incessant moves to give us “connected cars” with Internet access and wireless Bluetooth pairing to our smartphones also have made today’s vehicles extremely vulnerable to hackers who are able to get into a car’s electronic brains with ease.

In fact, Delphi, an auto supplier, held a so-called “hack-a-thon” event last summer, and a 14-year-old from metro Detroit was able to hack the vehicle using $14 in parts from a Radio Shack.

Just this week that the Center for Automotive Research held a conference in which tech industry experts expressed a general consensus: the auto industry doesn’t have the expertise to take on today’s hackers. That’s on the heels of a recently released report from a pair of U.S. senators that identifies an urgent need for automakers to take action to prevent car hacking. The report says the public needs “the electronic equivalent of seat belts and airbags to keep drivers and their information safe.”

For episode 11 of the PC Mike Techcast we talk to an expert in car hacking who tells us how the increase in vehicle technologies over the last eight years especially had provided almost countless ways for hackers to “get inside” your vehicle – even possibly opening the door for someone from thousands of miles away to control it. Craig Smith, who wrote Car Hacker’s Manual and is behind the OpenGarages.org forum that is designed to serve as a platform for people to exchange information about car hacks, joins us. Among other things, Smith talks about:

  • How easy it is to hack a car or truck
  • What features can be controlled by a hacker, such as brakes and steering
  • What tech features in your vehicle make it susceptible to hacking
  • Hackers are electronically “hot wiring” cars right now and stealing them
  • How vehicles have been proven to be hacked
  • The auto industry needs to abandon its old model of doing business so it can quickly address the issue of car hacking and shore up vehicle security
  • Internet connected cars create the possibility that hackers, from anywhere in the world, can access a vehicle’s electronic controls


For complete shownotes, links and resources mentioned in this episode, keep reading….

First Things First: Inbox Zero Can REALLY Happen!

We kick off the show by talking about the bane of our existence – email. We all get too much and it is too easy to get too bogged down in it. That’s where we can help. Let me show you a couple of helpful ways to cut through the clutter and make your inbox an efficient thing of beauty.

A service called Sanebox does some pretty amazing things with your email. It filters it and arranges it in folders making it easy to unsubscribe to unwanted mail and even easier to organize, defer and categorize your mail based on how important it is. It works on all platforms and devices and gives you a free two week trial. After that, it’s $59 a year.

If too many subscription emails and updates and group mailings are clogging your inbox, try Unroll.Me, a really handy tool for any email account that lets you unsubscribe from all of that group mail with a single click. Or you can combine all your favorite subscriptions into one single email sent weekly or monthly. I was amazed at how many junk mailing I got and Unroll.Me helped me zap dozens of them. It’s free, but they make you share on social media after five unsubscribes.

With these two services, I’m getting close to “Inbox Zero,” that state of virtual Nirvana where all my email is handled each day.

Audio Review: Small Fugoo Bluetooth Speaker Packs Big Sound

I talk about the Fugoo Bluetooth speaker, which is only 8 inches and about one pound in size. We also have a full-review for you to check out (Read more).

PC/Mac Review: Back Up with iDrive

I get asked all the time, “How can I backup and protect my personal data?” Well I’ve got the answer for you and it’s called iDrive.

IDrive easily secures your files from any disaster. From your personal photos to your critical business files, backup all of your family or businesses computers and smartphones into one single iDrive account at no extra cost. It works with PCs, Macs, iPhone’s iPads and Android devices, allowing universal access by any of your devices and military grade encryption to keep everything safe. You get 1 terrabyte of backup. Normally this would cost $59.50, but if you sign up TODAY you save 75 percent off the first year.

You have to go to our special address to get the discount at pcmike.com/idrive.

Listener Feedback: Don’t Believe the Pro-Net Neutrality Hype

Listener Brett Glass responds to our interview from last week during which we had Michael Weinberg, vice president, Washington, D.C.-based Public Knowledge, talking about the pros of net neutrality. Well not so fast says Glass as you hear in this week’s edition of Listener Feedback.

Tech News and Trends: Car Hacking is Real

I introduce a subject getting more and more attention: car hacking.

The big driver of the attention these days is a report issued by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that identifies and urgent need for automakers to take action to prevent car hacking. The report says the public needs “the electronic equivalent of seat belts and airbags to keep drivers and their information safe.” You can read the full report here.

For many, however, what really drew attention to the subject of car hacking was the suspicious death of journalist Michael Hastings. You can read about what happened and why it’s suspicious here.

Interview: Craig Smith, author of Car Hacker’s Manual, founder of OpenGarages.org and TheiaLabs

Craig Smith, author of the Car Hacker’s Manual, founder OpenGarages.org and TheiaLabs, and member of I Am The Calvary, an organization aimed at showcasing information technology issues that need attention in order to improve public safety and life.

Online Learning – Free Trial for PC Mike Listeners

I get asked a lot about finding online courses for learning how to use photography software such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom CC, which are both on my recently updated list of tech gear. I talk about how I benefited from taking online courses as well as a special deal available only to PC Mike Techcast listeners at pcmike.com/lynda, where you can even try it free for 10 days and see if online learning works as well for you as it has for me. By the way, they have more than 3,300 courses to pick from – including more than 100,000 video tutorials – in subjects ranging from photography, video and audio to graphic design and web development.

With Lynda, you can get:

  • Unlimited access to all 3,314 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
  • Learn new software and stay up to date
  • Watch and learn from top experts

Listeners of the PC Mike podcast can get a free 10-day trial. Try any course. Start your trial now and see what you can learn. Just go to https://pcmike.com/lynda to get the free 10 day trial.

Free Audiobook

We have news on how you can get a FREE audiobook download and 30-day free trial by going to http://audibletrial.com/pcmike. Audible offers over 150,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player. For listeners of the PC Mike podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. To download your free audiobook today, go here.

PC Mike Techcast listeners may enjoy “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. Regular price is $34.99, but it’s free if you sign-up for a trial with Audible at http://audibletrial.com/pcmike.

We Need Your Help!

As we begin a new podcast like this, it’s very important to get a bunch of reviews to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your rating and review.

Here’s how:

First, open up the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts on top
> From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in PC Mike Techcast under the Podcasts category.
> Click on the logo image of the PC Mike Techcast on the search return page
> From there, you can:

1) Subscribe

2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much.

3) Leave a written review.

Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. I read and appreciate every review! If you haven’t left a review please do so. I will be so grateful!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at pcmike.com. You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your question.

Thank you!

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.