Nissan withdraws Smartphone app

Nissan withdraws Smartphone app
As new cars get increasingly connected there is an increasing risk that the software could get hacked. Nissan has just found that out for itself.

The Japanese car makers were informed by a security researcher that hackers would be able to hack into the computer control system of the Leaf electric car. The company immediately suspended the smartphone app for this type until the issue has been investigated.

With the Leaf electric car Nissan had designed an app that allows owners to controlling the heating and cooling systems from their smartphones. However Australian security expert Tory Hunt found that it was possible to hack into the system from anywhere in the world.

For the security test Hunt worked with Scott Helm, and was eventually able to take control of Helm's car even though it was in Britain and Hunt was in Australia. The hack was possible as the researchers were able to find the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for Helm's car. What makes the Leaf vulnerable is that the start of every VIN is exactly the same. It is only the last five digits that alter, and by typing in different numbers at random hackers can take over the controls of any Leaf across the globe.

Hunt claims that he reported the weakness to Nissan, who did nothing about it for a few weeks. It was only when parts of the media started to pick up on the story that the car maker did anything to stop the app. All Nissan has stated is that the app would be reactivated once the issue with the vulnerability had been resolved. Though there was no evidence of any hacking been carried Nissan did not want to take any more risks.

Hackers may eventually work out how to take control of cars, so all car companies need to keep their systems secure.

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