The Car Geek: Bluetooth Hack on Toyota Prius Proven False

The Car Geek

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bluetooth Hack on Toyota Prius Proven False

Today’s cars are increasingly becoming more computer-based than mechanical. One of the most advanced vehicles today is the Toyota Prius, currently the best selling hybrid gasoline-electric car in the market. Priuses also use a Bluetooth system similar to some models of the high-end Lexus brand. Toyota uses Bluetooth technology to transfer phone book information from a cell phone to the car’s built in phone. Because of this, there have been recent reports that suggest the possibility of remotely hacking the computer system of certain cars using a Bluetooth-enabled phone.

F-Secure, a Finnish security firm tried to prove or disprove these reports by attempting to hack a 2005 Toyota Prius using Bluetooth test phones and PCs at their underground facility. However, F-Secure, despite repeated attempts only managed a minor Bluetooth hack. A corrupted phone name froze the onboard display but otherwise the Prius Bluetooth system remained more stable. F-Secure had to reboot their test systems while the Prius’ Bluetooth system just kept going.

At one point the F-Secure team believed they have succeeded hacking the car’s system when the car’s doors locked, warning lights lit up and the onboard computer registered a serious failure. However, the problem had nothing to do with Bluetooth but simply a low battery. These reports on alleged virus infections on Bluetooth enabled vehicles have been circulating for some time now although there have been no details of actual infections published yet.

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