2011's Coolest Hacks Uncovered

By SiliconIndia   |   Friday, 30 December 2011, 08:43 Hrs
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Bangalore: The Black Hat USA and the Def Con 19 that were both held this year in Las Vegas  saw a number of hackers demonstrating their skills in ways that captured people’s attention.

Dark Reading (an information portal that focuses on IT security) has compiled an annual list of the “coolest hacks” for the consecutive fifth year now, and top seven the hacks that made the list range from being educational, to terrifying.

1. Starting a car remotely via SMS

Don Bailey, a security researcher, showed off his simple discovery that took him 2 hours to disarm a car alarm system remotely. He then controlled it by means of GSM and other cell-connected devices. All he had to do was to disable the car alarm system which docks on cellular networks and receives directions from control servers, and reverse-engineer the physical security system that is a part of the GSM and cellular network.


2. Shutting down a whole power plant

NSS labs security researcher Dillon Beresford demonstrated at Black Hat USA, the fragility of power systems run by computers. SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems are usually used in industrial control systems, and comprise of a computer with a keyboard, PLC, communication infrastructure and processors. Although not an expert in SCADA systems, he was able to penetrate and reprogram Siemens PLCs so that they gave him access to their passwords. He was further able to shut down the systems, or cause them to crash. The demonstration was considered alarming mainly because these systems run vital infrastructure such as power plants.

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