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Is the Trucking Industry Vulnerable to Hacking?

Is the Trucking Industry Vulnerable to Hacking?

It’s been well-documented that a number of new, high-end technological devices are finding their way into the field of freight transportation and delivery. Electronic logging devices, cloud-based logistics platforms, and even self-driving vehicles are all making an impact on truck driving. But this focus on technology has caused many to wonder – is the truck driving industry becoming a prime target for hackers?

Recently at the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies in Austin, Texas, three researches from the University of Michigan demonstrated that it was possible to hack into heavy vehicles and make changes to things such as gauge settings and brake controls. They were even able to make a vehicle accelerate by pressing the spacebar on their laptop. The researchers hope that bringing these issues up will lead to trucking companies tightening up security.

Yelizaveta Burakova, one of the researchers, said: “These (trucking) companies need to start looking at computer security as a potential safety issue like they look at making sure air bags work properly. It all needs to go into the same level of priority.” The size and weight of commercial vehicles makes them especially dangerous if their control is compromised.

By connecting their computers to the electronic diagnostics port of a commercial vehicle, the hackers were able to tap into the J1939 communication system. They demonstrated two distinct types of attacks – a powertrain attack and an instrument cluster attack. While many automakers including tech-enthusiast Tesla Motors have invited “friendly hackers” to help them discover vulnerabilities in their systems, the hackers in Michigan have received no request concerning ways to close these vulnerabilities.

Bill Hass, one of the hackers, said: “We’d love to get our hands on new vehicles or other models or vehicles from other industries. Our hypothesis is that it works across all the vehicles that have the standard equipment, and we’d love to test that.”

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