And People Want This Stuff in Their Cars

One thing people seem to clamber for more and more are methods of tracking and disabling cars remotely. Usually people talk about wanting to be able to track their car and disable it if it gets stolen. There are various methods of implementing such a device allowing for these things to be done via SMS or a web page. Of course companies that make these devices promote them as enhanced security and peace of mind. Parents love the idea of being able to track their teenager’s every move. The problem made apparent by Bruce Schneier is such devices are double-edged swords:

More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.

Oh yeah and the part to concern yourself with:

Ramos-Lopez’s account had been closed when he was terminated from Texas Auto Center in a workforce reduction last month, but he allegedly got in through another employee’s account, Garcia says. At first, the intruder targeted vehicles by searching on the names of specific customers. Then he discovered he could pull up a database of all 1,100 Auto Center customers whose cars were equipped with the device. He started going down the list in alphabetical order, vandalizing the records, disabling the cars and setting off the horns.

Any device that you can use to remotely disable your vehicle can be used by somebody else as well. In this case the devices were put into place by banks since the people buying the cars had been delinquent on payments. But after the WAY over-blown Toyota fiasco there is a lot of talk by government officials about requiring automobiles to be equipped with black boxes. If the government does that you can bet money they will also put in a remote kill switch.