Skip to comments.Bush advisor: Hastings crash ‘consistent with a car cyberattack’
Posted on 06/26/2013 5:56:33 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
A former cybersecurity advisor to President George W. Bush says a sophisticated computer hack could have been the cause of the automobile accident that claimed the life of journalist Michael Hastings last week in Los Angeles.
Richard Clarke, a State Department official-turned-special advisor to several United States presidents, said the early morning auto crash last Tuesday was "consistent with a car cyberattack, raising new questions about the death of the award-winning journalist.
Hastings died last week when his 2013 Mercedes C250 coupe collided with a tree in Los Angeles, California on the morning of June 18. He was reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed and failed to stop at a red light moments before the single-car crash. He was only 33.
Speaking to Huffington Post this week, Clarke said that a cyberattack waged at the vehicle could have caused the fatal collision.
"What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it's relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn't want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn't want the brakes on, to launch an air bag," Clarke told The Huffington Post. "You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it's not that hard."
"So if there were a cyberattack on the car and I'm not saying there was," Clarke continued, "I think whoever did it would probably get away with it."
The Los Angeles Police Department said they dont expect foul play was involved in the crash, but an investigation has been opened nonetheless.
In an email reportedly sent by Hastings hours before the crash, he told colleagues that he thought he was the target of a federal investigation.
Hey [redacted}, the Feds are interviewing my close friends and associates, Hastings wrote 15 hours before the crash.
Also: Im onto a big story, and need to go off the rada[r] for a bit, he added. All the best, and hope to see you all soon.
The email was supplied to KTLA News in Los Angeles by Staff Sgt. Joseph Biggs, who says he met Hastings while the journalist was embedded in Afghanistan in 2008. It was reportedly send to a handful of Hastings associates and was blind-copied to Biggs.
I just said it doesnt seem like him. I dont know, I just had this gut feeling and it just really bothered me, Biggs told KTLA.
Reporters at Buzzfeed where Hastings worked say they received an email from their colleague, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a statement two days after Hastings death to quash rumors that they had been looking into the reporter.
At no time was Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
According to the Associated Press, however, Hastings fingerprints were on file with the FBI and were used by the bureau to identify his body after flames consumed much the auto wreckage last week.
"I believe the FBI when they say they weren't investigating him," Clarke told the Huffington Post. "That was very unusual, and I'm sure they checked very carefully before they said that."
"I'm not a conspiracy guy. In fact, I've spent most of my life knocking down conspiracy theories," he said. "But my rule has always been you don't knock down a conspiracy theory until you can prove it [wrong]. And in the case of Michael Hastings, what evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyberattack. And the problem with that is you can't prove it."
Clarke, 62, spent nearly two decades at the Pentagon before relocating to the White House where he served under President Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush. He served as special advisor to President George W. Bush on cybersecurity until leaving the administration in 2003 and is currently the chairman and CEO of Good Harbor Security Risk Management, LLC.
I think he was bombed. People living nearby reported feeling concussion and a "boom". No cyber hack will make a car blow up.
Maybe it was both.
I had this same experience when a full size pickup piloted by a drunk nailed a utility pole on my rural road at an estimated 45 mph. There DEFINITELY was a feeling of concussion and boom. I thought a bomb had gone off, it was stunning. And yes the engine was a long way down the road from the remains of the chassis.
There's video I saw as if a drum of gasoline was on fire.
I suspect the post it note is making a speedy comeback in newsrooms across America.
You sure it wasn’t a center fuel tank explosion, Richard?
Yup. Cars are intentionally designed now to come apart to dissipate energy in a crash. Thus 5 grand repair bils for minor impacts. 77 F 250s they arent.
Having recently done a ground up frame off rebuild on one, it is amazing the difference in materials from then to now.. They really don’t build’em like they used to.
In order for a hacker to alter the path of a vehicle, interfacing with the ABS, Steering, Stability control, Traction Control, etc. systems, there must be some system for real time interfacing with the vehicle control computers. I’m not aware of any vehicle systems having this type of communication system. It would have to be wireless, such as satellite phone, cell phone, or wide area Wi-Fi. To steer it into a pole, the hacker would require VERY FAST communication, including video.
All they have to do is take control of acceleration.
Other articles I’ve seen here say it’d be child’s play.
Best $100 I ever spent.
This is why I drive a 40 year old IH Scout. It’s built like a tank, geared like a dump truck, and has absolutely no computer control. And, I can carry all of tools I need to fix it in the back.
he said ‘consistent with’ ...
which means it’s not only possible... but used commonly enough to have a consistent and identifiable behavior
no tin foil required
Note to self: If I ever tell people I am working on ‘something big’ be sure to add “and I left instructions on how to find it in case of my death”
Usually, though, the engine keeps going in the direction the vehicle was headed at impact. Accounts at the time reported that the tree was relatively unhurt (usually the bark gets torn off in a violent collision), and that the engine/transmission had traveled at 90 degrees to the direction the car was going.
A few key numbers would help: The mass of the engine/transmission and the amount of momentum needed to launch it the distance traveled (as I recall about 150 feet).
Older Mercedes were tanks, but I'm not familiar with the construction of the newer ones. With crumple zones, etc, (not present when I was a Fireman), the absorption of energy by the deforming bodywork would tend to reduce the stresses on the motor mounts, etc. rather than the more severe stresses of a more rigid coachwork (where the engine would tend to keep moving at its previous velocity while the rest of the vehicle came to an abrupt halt.
With a crumple zone, the deceleration would be less sudden, and the stresses on motor mounts would be less.
Perhaps some FReepers who have better knowledge of the vehicle and its construction can shed some light on that.
If so, it could be determined how far the engine/transmission would likely travel at any given speed--and a minimum of how fast the vehicle would have to be traveling to toss one that far, not counting shearing the mounts.
If the numbers just don't fit, then the ejection of the engine/transmission (as shown by distance of travel) might have had some help beyond the basic physics of a car crash.
The other questionable aspect is the intense fire seen in the videos. When the engine left the vehicle, most of the electrical and fuel system should have been, pardon the expression, FUBAR. Without the primary source of heat or electricity, there should have been no fire. A massive fuel tank structural failure should have spread out more (a couple of gallons of gas can cover an amazing amount of pavement).
Sorry, but I think this needs closer scrutiny.
No no no. This was just an accident.
And Brietbart had a heart attack.
/no need, is there?
“24” called, Jack Bauer wants his plot device back.
How does the command get from the hacker to the car?
Not really. You just program the car to wait until X event has happened (eg driving over a certain speed) and the floor the accelerator while killing the brakes. Almost guarnated assassination.
It really is that easy.