Was US Reporter's Mysterious Death the Result of a 'Car-Hacking'?
August 1, 2013
The Cleveland Challenger
Some friends and fans of Rollng Stone reporter Michael Hastings believe the mysterious car crash that killed Hastings -- the reporter who whose revelations brought an end to the career of a powerful military leader -- could have been an assasination. Scientists have proven that cyber attacks against modern, computerized cars make them easy targets to hack, control and use against a driver.
LOS ANGELES, CA (June 24, 2013) -- If the US Department of Justice under President Barack Obama's oversight is willing to investigate journalists, and has allowed the FBI to use drones on American soil to spy on citizens, is it possible that federal employees trained in espionage have the power to hack journalist Michael Hastings' car to assassinate someone they thought threatened "their" security?
The answer is a very resounding "yes" according to computer researchers who delivered a report called "Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile" to a 2010 IEEE symposium on privacy and security. What's more, the researchers' say, hacking a car's computer and remotely controlling it is easy. [Click here to read report.]
"Indeed, we have demonstrated the ability to systematically control a wide array of components including engine, brakes, heating and cooling, lights, instrument panel, radio, locks, and so on. Combining these we have been able to mount attacks that represent potentially signiﬁcant threats to personal safety.
For example, we are able to forcibly and completely disengage the brakes while driving, making it difﬁcult for the driver to stop. Conversely, we are able to forcibly activate the brakes, lurching the driver forward and causing the car to stop suddenly."
Some conspiracy theorists won't stop believing that BuzzFeed journalist Hastings' death was anything but an assassination. The speculation gained ground when Wikileaks tweeted a mysterious message that his "death has a very serious non-public complication" and promised more details later.
Hastings was burned to death on June 18 when his Mercedes C250 sped past by a cop at a red light on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, crashed into a palm tree a few seconds later and turned into a bomb that ejected the engine and threw it almost 100 feet away. The cop's dash cam recorded Hastings' speeding car right before the fatal crash.
The journalist and author's body was burned beyond recognition, and so was the computer data his vehicle's on board system recorded before he died.
Hastings gained prominence when he interviewed General Stanley McChrystal who Obama had assigned to win ex-President George Bush's war with Afghanistan. The July 2010 article revealed McChrystal and his aides making derogatory comments about the civilians who oversaw them, including Vice President Joe Biden and Obama's National Security Advisor, James L. Jones.
McChrystal delivered his resignation to Obama right before the article hit newsstands. Hastings was supposed to have been working on another article that involved Paula Kelly, the woman who revealed General David Patraeus' affair. He also knew the FBI was investigating him according to a June 17 12:56 p.m. email he sent to editors
"The Feds are interviewing my close friends and associated. Perhaps if the authorities arrive, BuzzFeed GQ, ir HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues."
There is a term that's been growing among computer privacy and security specialists which identifies the concept of "car cyber attacks." Researchers have learned that these attacks give hackers total control of a car's braking and throttling.
A hacker engaged in a car cyber attack can completely disable a driver's ability to control their vehicle's gas pedal or brakes. This enables them to make the vehicle speed up or stop against the wishes of the motorist.
The technology has been around since at least the mid-1990′s when inventor David Vaughan filed for a patent on November 21, 1994 to register an invention that controlled vehicle speed by using the Global Positioning System (GPS).
"The present invention is unique because it allows one to control the vehicle speed by using the Global Positioning System to determine the vehicle location, and to use locally stored map database to match the vehicle location and speed with the maximum posted speed limit. Accordingly, the speed of the vehicle is controlled and the posted speed is enforced without using the police patrol," Vaughan said in explaining his 1994 invention to the patent office.
In 2011 computer scientists delivered a report to the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board showing how they were able to hack the security codes that protected a vehicle's installed cellular phone by inserting malicious software in it. Hacking the cell phone allowed them to send instructions to the vehicle's electronic control unit that overrode its controls.
New York Times reporter John Markoff wrote in 2011 that researchers refused to offer speculation about how hacking a vehicle's cellular phone might cause it to crash.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.