As cars become more and more like rolling computers, they're facing a new kind of threat formerly reserved for laptops and the like: They're being hacked.
Police in Long Beach, Calif., are looking for two men who used some sort of wireless device to unlock cars. They were caught on video holding something in their hands. As they approach the car, the interior lights came on and the doors simply opened. Police are baffled by how the thieves hacked into the car's wireless system.
It wasn't the first time thieves used technology to rob cars. In Chicago, a similar theft was caught on camera in 2012. Chicago police theorized that code-cracking software sent the same unlock signal to the car that the vehicle's key fob transmitter uses.
But you might not need special software to break into cars -- all you need is a cellphone.
Many new cars come with mobile apps that can unlock doors and start engines. Those smartphone apps send messages to a service center, which then sends a signal to the car telling it what to do. Smart hackers know how to intercept those signals and use them to their advantage.
This convenient feature can put vehicles at even greater risk from high tech criminals. In 2011, at an information security conference, a consultant hacked into a car's security system using only a cell phone and laptop. He was able to unlock the vehicle after only a few minutes and after two hours was able to start the engine.