Digital. Trump rarely uses email: "no computer is safe". Hack self-driving cars' sensors? $43 & a laser pointer
Jan. 01, 2014
PALM BEACH, Fla. President-elect Donald Trump says that "no computer is safe" when it comes to keeping information private, expressing new skepticism about the security of online communications his administration is likely to use for everything from day-to-day planning to international relations.
Trump rarely uses email or computers, despite his frequent tweeting.
"You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way. Because I'll tell you what: No computer is safe," Trump told reporters during his annual New Year's Eve bash. "I don't care what they say."
"Anybody can go online and get access to this, buy it really quickly, and just assemble it, and there you go, you have a device that can spoof lidar," Petit, a cybersecurity expert, told Business Insider.
One of the first researchers to show how easy it is to hack self-driving cars' sensors, he was able to trick a sensor into thinking objects were there when they weren't, and vice versa.
"So here, you can think that the potential consequence of an attack like this could be 'I tried to crash you into a vehicle ahead of you because I'm telling you there is no object here,'" he said. "So I'm making [the sensors] blind, and now your system thinks it's free."
But that kind of hack can have other consequences, too. The car could see an obstacle that isn't there and change lanes to get away from it. That maneuver, designed to keep passengers safe, could disrupt traffic. It could also cause the car to go off course.
"So now you've changed the path of the vehicle by doing this, that's also an impact, which means that then the risk could be 'I'm sending you to small street to stop you and rob you or steal the car,'" he said.
Petit not only tricked the lidar system that self-driving cars use, but he also was able to blind the cameras they rely on by using different LED lights. If the car feels it can no longer operate safely because its cameras have been disabled, it could stop entirely, leading to those same kind of problems.
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