File this under OMG. Or perhaps, "just because you can, doesn't mean you should". In Austin, Texas, some 100 cars were "hacked into" and mechanically disabled with their horns honking incessantly. So what happened?
All of the cars were purchased from the same used car dealership in town. The dealership had installed a black box under the dashboard wirelessly web-connected to activate in case car payments weren't made. Each black box was set up to disable the car and set off the horn remotely as an incentive to the owner to square their payments.
The black box cannot disable a moving vehicle.
These car owners were not in arrears, however. A recently laid off employee at the dealership allegedly decided to get his revenge by going back into the system and disable the cars one by one. He was reportedly working his way through the list alphabetically when someone figured out it was a hack and changed the passwords.
In the meantime, unsuspecting car owners were late for work, had to pay for tow truck service, pull their battery cables to make the horn stop honking, etc.
- how many customers have called the dealership demanding their black box be removed.
- how many customers are calling area mechanics to do it for them.
- how many customers will ever consider buying another car from that dealership.
- how many potential customers are going elsewhere.
- how many lawyers will be getting rich off this one.
- if the owner of the dealership still thinks the black box was a good idea.
This story underscores a point that I like to make again and again.
The pace of developing of new technologies has far surpassed our capacity to appropriately use them. So, slow down and think it through.
Technology is supposed to be the tool, not us.
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