Could your car be an evil force? Or your toaster, for that matter?

Which kind of robot will be the first to arise and smite us? A study called Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile suggests we keep an eye on the family car…

Unlike the mindless jalopies of the past, it points out, “Today’s automobile is no mere mechanical device, but contains a myriad of computers.”

This myriad has powers to do good things for us humans, as well as bad things to us. Already, in some cases, the microchip hordes quietly, beneficently take control from the driver. The Lexus LS460 luxury sedan can automatically parallel-park itself. Many General Motors cars will soon have what the study calls “integration with Twitter”…

Limiting themselves to the here and now (“we concern ourselves solely with the vulnerabilities in today’s commercially available automobiles”), they tell, in professionally dull, let’s-remember-we’re-engineers fashion, how they conducted an experimental reign of terror…

The study focuses on automobiles. But indirectly, it forsees the day when our very toasters and teapots might turn against us. There is little publicly available research about the threat of hijackable household appliances.

In 1996, security experts based partly at the Rand Corporation wrote a report called Information Terrorism: Can You Trust Your Toaster?

No doubt Karl Rove still has a copy.

OTOH – I admit to have occasional concerns about my satellite TV DVR. I’ve been up in the middle of the night and witnessed strange patterns flashing in the assorted lights on the front control panel.

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