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Class Claims Hackers|Can Hijack Cars

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Hackers can hijack Toyota, Ford and General Motors cars by wirelessly accessing the cars' computers, a class action claims in Federal Court.

What's more, lead plaintiff Helene Cahen claims, the companies have known of the vulnerabilities in their cars for years.

Cahen sued the companies for breach of warranty, breach of contract and violation of consumer protection laws, on March 10.

She claims that the defendants' vehicles containing controller area networks, or CAN bus networks, can be hacked.

If a hacker sends digital messages to the CAN bus, "the hacker could take control of such basic functions of the vehicle as braking, steering, and accelerate - and the driver would not be able to regain control," Cahen says in the complaint.

The 343-page lawsuit cites a 2013 study funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency: "Drivers and passengers are strictly at the mercy of the code running in their automobiles, and, unlike when their web browser crashes or is compromised, the threat to their physical well-being is real."

Researchers discovered that cars can be hacked in 2011, and that wireless communications allows a hacker to take control of a car remotely, according to the lawsuit.

Cahen claims that researchers told Toyota and Ford about the vulnerabilities, but the companies did not address the problem.

She filed the 238-count lawsuit on behalf of current and former owners or lessees of Toyota, Ford and GM vehicles equipped with CAN buses.

The enormous number of charges is primarily due to claims made under the laws of every state.

Cahen seeks class certification, costs, restitution, damages, including punitive damages, and disgorgement.

She is represented by Matthew Zeven, with Stanley Law Group of San Diego.

Contact Arvin Temkar at [email protected]

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