Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why @a_greenberg probably likes (some) bicycles right about now

Businesses are always looking for ways to advance in the market, and one business - Metromile - hit upon the idea of innovating car insurance. Rather than basing car insurance rates on self-reporting of miles driven, Metromile decided to charge on the exact number of miles that a person drove. Of course, Metromile would need precise data to do this, so it sourced a tool for this purpose.

The key to per-mile insurance is the Metromile Pulse, a free small wireless device we send you that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port. Plugging in the Pulse is easy, doesn’t require any tools, and once in place it securely counts your miles with every trip. Per-mile insurance doesn’t consider other driving factors such as how fast you drive, how suddenly you turn, or how hard you brake, just how many miles you drive.

Let's take Metromile at its word and assume that it only records the number of miles that a person drives. Sounds like an innovative idea, right?

If you've followed the news lately, you know where this is going. Wired reports that this dongle was (emphasis on "was") capable of being hacked:

[T]he researchers demonstrate their proof-of-concept attacks on a 2013 Corvette, messing with its windshield wipers and both activating and cutting its brakes. Though the researchers say their Corvette brake tricks only worked at low speeds due to limitations in the automated computer functions of the vehicle, they say they could have easily adapted their attack for practically any other modern vehicle and hijacked other critical components like locks, steering or transmission, too.

Yes, you have to worry about what you plug into your car - or, as the recent Jeep hack shows, what comes over the wireless network to the car.

Hmm...Andy Greenberg was the report for both of these stories. If I were Greenberg, I'd quit driving cars and take the bus...provided it's a really old bus.

Or perhaps a bicycle is the, maybe not.

You're connected, why shouldn't your bike be?

Um, scared Luddites can think of a bunch of reasons to keep one's bike off the grid...
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