Unlock car with cell phone smsPresently, a GSM based sophisticated security system promises you the most intelligent and best security for your car. True, but after a recent stunning revelation by two security researchers, Don Bailey and Mathew Solnik from iSec Partners, no security system seems to provide enough security to keep the attackers at bay. Both the researchers managed to hack into the GSM based security systems installed in a car in just two hours. The hack allowed them to unlock and start the engine of the car, all remotely.

Various car manufacturing companies have their own cellular based automotive roadside assistance services that allow you to control your cars remotely and keep it safe. For example, BMW has BMW Assist, General Motors has OnStar, Hyundai has Blue Link while Ford has Ford Sync. All these services are considered to be great for ensuring the safety of your car. However, the recent hack shows how vulnerable these security systems are.

How did the pair hack the security system? Well, as claimed, the process wasn’t complicated at all. First of all, they identified the cars that used mobile applications to control the cars. After this, they hacked into the car’s GSM mobile network and through reverse engineering the protocols they were able to control the security system installed in the car. This meant that they could now just send an SMS from a laptop to the car and disable the alarm system, unlock doors or start the engine just like the owner of the car. The hacking duo has named their process as “War Texting” and to demonstrate they used a Subaru Outback and an Android phone.

The complete details of the hack would be disclosed by Bailey and Solnik only after the affected manufacturers have fixed their systems. However, the process doesn’t matter much as most of the cellular based security systems are quite similar in their working making them equally vulnerable to threats.

If you think this was scary enough, you would be disturbed to know the further possible damages that can be done. Cars are not the only place where such security system is used. There are other systems such as 3G security cameras, traffic control systems, and home automation systems where cellular based security systems are deployed. However, the security seems that seem to have become the most vulnerable to attacks is the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition or SCADA. Under SCADA comes all the industrial control systems that monitor and control various industries and processes such as power generation, wastewater collection and treatment, airports, space stations and more.

This recently discovered loophole in the security system of cellular or GSM based networks leaves many security systems vulnerable to attack. It is a serious threat that needs to be addressed as early as possible. GSM based devices are there in everyone’s hand today, which means anyone with a bit of knowledge about reverse engineering can be a potential threat to the society. And this is not the first time that such a flaw has been pointed out in the GSM based security systems. Therefore, it is important to beef up the security levels of these systems ensuring that there is no breach from any outsider or hacker.


Amanda Kidd is a blogger who is fond of writing on tech help and most expensive gadgets. She is all into computers and in recent times she learnt a lot about Product Design and developing her interest into luxury items upcoming in the market.