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Cars Safe From Mobile Worms

A Finnish security firm said it had put to rest fears that automobiles could become infected with current mobile viruses via Bluetooth.

1 Min Read

A Finnish security firm said it had put to rest fears that automobiles could become infected with current mobile viruses via Bluetooth, the short-range wireless technology used by some phones to exchange information, and some cars to accept address books from mobile phones.

Helsinki-based F-Secure, which has been among the first to track malicious code spread through cell phones, obtained a Toyota Prius loaner, dragged it to an underground facility 140 feet below the surface, and ran a series of tests to see if the most prevalent phone worm -- Cabir, which has spread to 21 countries worldwide so far -- could infect in-car Bluetooth systems.

The Prius, and Toyota's Lexus series -- the latter was the focus of scuttlebutt earlier in 2005 that Cabir (or other mobile malware) could infect an automobile -- use Bluetooth, among other things, transfer phone books from a mobile phone to the built-in phone in the car.

"We wanted to simulate a situation where someone just walks past the car with a Cabir-infected phone that has not been paired with the car," F-Secure's researchers said on the company's site. "Then we recreated a situation where the phone of the owner of the car is infected and he does Bluetooth operations with the car."

Not only was F-Secure not able to infect the Prius' Bluetooth system from the Cabir-contaminated cell phone, but the Toyota even rejected attempts to manually transfer the worm from the mobile phone.

More information, as well as photographs taken during the tests, can be found on the F-Secure research lab's blog site.

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