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Hacking Cars And Trucks And What To Do About It

Good morning. I’m Saul Reisman here at Saul’s Automotive, and we are going to talk just a small little bit about some of the new advanced driver safety systems in your car and some of the things that nobody thought about when they were designing these. We have all these ADAS systems — advanced driver awareness to keep you safe — that all work together in many different ways. However, one of these that most recently got implemented federally as a mandate is for your TPMS or tire pressure monitoring system. While this is a great idea, because a lot of unattentive drivers might not catch a flat tire or slowly going flat tire — this does keep a lot of drivers safe — at the same time, leaves some vulnerability.

One thing that wasn’t accounted for when they started producing these systems was the idea that anyone would ever want to do something negative with this technology. Now, we would think, “What could somebody negatively do with a tire sensor?” Well, just this past year, one major automotive supplier and another major automotive supplier that are major, major, major competitors got in a little bit of a battle before the largest holiday of the year, the Labor Day Weekend, which is the busiest time for, uh, your local NAPA, O’Reilly, Carquest, Advance, those kind of shops, to sell as many parts as possible. That’s when everybody’s home for the weekend to get their repairs done.

Well, one of these major companies attacked the other by essentially hacking their tire pressure monitoring system on 300 of their semis that were out on the road to deliver parts the weekend before this major coming and told all of these semis that all 18 tires were flat at the exact same time. They negatively fooled the tire pressure monitoring system so that it read zeroes across the board. Now these experienced drivers obviously knew that they didn’t have 18 flat tires all at once. They would have felt something. They would have known. But the law dictates that, because of the way the system works, they must fulfill their obligation as a DOT driver, pull over and check their tires to confirm whether the sensors were reading accurately or if there’s actually a problem.

While this may not seem like that big of deal, that means that 300 semis worth of auto parts didn’t get delivered before the busiest weekend of the year. So a lot of these suppliers and mom-and-pop stores individually weren’t able to make their sales and weren’t able to put that product out on the shelf. As a result, one supplier made a tremendous amount more money over the weekend than the other. And this was the very first malicious attempt we’ve seen with automotive technology here at Saul’s Automotive. We’ve got a challenge out there for you as the independent, the viewer, and those in the technology and digital age. We would love to see an automotive firewall. Cars have multiple different computers.

They all communicate on a CAN bus system, and many of them have wireless pieces and parts of them that make them very vulnerable to a hack. We challenge you to try and produce a way to stop these from happening. There are many companies that would be interested in the technology, and there’s many out there that are already trying for a solution. If you think you’ve got an idea, we would love to hear it, and we’d love to see what we can do with it. If it can keep more people safe on the road and keep people better protected, we want it in cars. If you’ve got a concern about yours, if you’ve got an issue with your TPMS sensors, or if you simply want to learn a little bit more about [beeping sound] how these things progress and change over time, we would love to talk with you about it.

We stay on the leading edge of technology by going around the world, whether it’s to Israel for mobility and transportation conferences, to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the annual SEMA and AAPEX show, all across to make sure we have the best information for you. Give us a call here at Saul’s Automotive at 303-919-7769. Thank you.

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About the Author

Picture of Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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