By July 29, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

“Remote Control Car” Theory Is Bolstered by New Surveillance Video of the Hastings Crash

Newly unearthed footage captured on an Los Angeles restaurant’s surveillance camera allegedly shows the final moments before journalist Michael Hastings’ vehicle burst into flames on impact. Hastings, who was just 33-years-old, is best known for his Rolling Stone profile on Gen. Stanley McChrystal, which ultimately forced his resignation.

Hastings was killed after his Mercedes Benz smashed into a tree on Highland Avenue on June 19. His vehicle was traveling at extremely high speeds before the vehicle hit the tree and was immediately engulfed in flames.

Mercedes Benz was quick to debunk the theory that the car of Wikileaking journalist Michael Hastings “just blew up” upon impact. Journalists have consulted leading University Physics professors in the Los Angeles area, who all agreed that the placement of the engine defied expectations of a normal crash scenario.

The new video that has emerged elucidates more about Hastings’ enigmatic death. It was reportedly captured by one of the surveillance cameras at Pizzeria Mozza, a well-known pizza restaurant located just a few hundred feet from the site of the crash. The owner of the restaurant, Nancy Silverton, gave the footage to police the day after the accident, according to LA Weekly.

In the unsettling video, Hastings’ vehicle is allegedly seen speeding down the road seconds before the car wrecked and went up in flames. Watch below…

The lack of answers surrounding the circumstances of the Hastings accident has allowed conspiracy theories to thrive on the Internet. The LAPD said they found no signs of foul play as the coroner continues to investigate. But many have indeed speculated that foul play was involved. Some have even speculated that his car could have been hacked and remotely controlled. 

If you’re at all the slightest bit skeptical of the emerging capability of hackers to take control of your electronic devices, then don’t watch this video. Why? Because you may never drive your car again after you see how a couple of government-funded tech guys were able to hack into, and take control of, one reporter’s vehicle — while he was driving it.

The experiment was the product of Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg, who wanted to see just how vulnerable cars are to hacking by Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, two researchers who received an $80,000 grant from the Pentagon’s research wing, DARPA, to study such vulnerabilities. The scary answer — shown in a video report — to how vulnerable is “very.”

Take for example that Miller, while plugged into the car’s computer system in the back seat — could do things like change how much fuel the car appears to have, alter the speedometer readingactually turn the steering wheel, honk the horn, and even mess with the brakes:

Forbes shows how a car can be hacked

Forbes shows how a car can be hacked

Forbes shows how a car can be hacked

Forbes shows how a car can be hacked

Forbes shows how a car can be hacked

Greenberg describes the capabilities of the hackers this way [emphasis added]:

As I drove their vehicles for more than an hour, Miller and Valasek showed that they’ve reverse-engineered enough of the software of the Escape and the Toyota Prius (both the 2010 model) to demonstrate a range of nasty surprises: everything from annoyances likeuncontrollably blasting the horn to serious hazards like slamming on the Prius’ brakes at high speeds. They sent commands from their laptops that killed power steering,spoofed the GPS and made pathological liars out of speedometers and odometers. Finally they directed me out to a country road, where Valasek showed that he could violently jerk the Prius’ steering at any speed, threatening to send us into a cornfield or a head-on collision.

“It’s quite terrifying when you don’t have brakes, right?” Miller jokes at one point. He then proceeds to turn them off, sending the car into the weeds.

“That’s the attack that crashed me into my garage,” Valasek admits.

“When you lose faith that a car will do what you tell it to do, it really changes your whole view of how the thing works,” Miller tells Greenberg. Here’s the video:

And don’t think that just because the duo hacked the controls while physically in the car that you should feel safe. Prior research has shown wireless access is as easy as using a car’s CD player [emphasis added]:

But Miller and Valasek’s work assumed physical access to the cars’ computers for a reason:Gaining wireless access to a car’s network is old news. A team of researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, experimenting on a sedan from an unnamed company in 2010, found that they could wirelessly penetrate the same critical systems Miller and Valasek targeted using the car’s OnStar-like cellular connection, Bluetooth bugs, a rogue Android app that synched with the car’s network from the driver’s smartphone or even a malicious audio file on a CD in the car’s stereo system.

“Academics have shown you can get remote code execution,” Valasek, told Greenberg. “We showed you can do a lot of crazy things once you’re inside.”

Forbes sums up just what that consists of in a graphic:

Forbes shows how a car can be hacked

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