Digital carjackers

Digital Carjackers Show Forbes How To Crash Cars, Fuel Michael Hastings Conspiracy Theories [Video]

Digital carjackers met with Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg to demonstrate how they can program a Ford Escape’s computer systems and crash it pretty much by pushing a button. On Wednesday, Forbes posted the video to YouTube, and you’re probably going to want to watch it, so press that button.

Warning: For some reason Andy Greenberg thinks we want to know that he flew out to meet these dudes on an an airplane. I’ve seen enough airports in my life. If you have too, I advise you to skip ahead to about the 0.58 mark where we actually meet digital carjackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek.

The trio plus an unseen camera person test the 3,500 pound Ford Escape in the weedy parking lot of a South Bend, Indiana strip mall.

With Greenberg at the wheel, the digital carjackers mess with the reporter’s mind by making his dashboard show more gas in the car than he actually has or by making his speedometer read 199 miles per hour.

The scariest stunt involves making the brakes fail with a melodramatic bellow — fortunately at 5 miles per hour so that nobody is hurt.

There’s much, much more in Greenberg’s article available online as well in the August 12 issue of Forbes.

The takeaway seems to be that bad guys can mess with your car computer just like they can with any other computer. And I don’t see why not.

However, what Greenberg, Miller, and Valasek may — or may not — know is that they have just fueled the flames of a thousand burning candles of conspiracy.

I got this story from someone who was looking into the death of Michael Hastings, the BuzzFeed reporter killed in a high speed car crash on June 18 in Los Angeles.

From what I’ve seen of Los Angeles, that kind of death isn’t too unusual.

But some people have speculated that he was killed because of his opposition to what he called the surveillance state.

I have no reason to believe that’s true. Andy Greenberg doesn’t mention Michael Hastings in the video or the online copy of his article.

But YouTube viewers of the videos are not so circumspect. Comment after comment reads: “RIP Michael Hastings” or “Hum… so is this what they did to Hastings when he was assassinated by the government goons?”

This is the kind of thing Twitter is saying about digital carjackers and Michael Hastings:

So what’s my take? Right now I believe that, yes, car computers can be hacked.

And I believe a reporter was killed in a car accident in Los Angeles.

But, no, I need a lot more than some random video to make me believe digital carjackers killed Michael Hastings. Comments are open.