The Not Really Viruses Are Spreading To Our Cars... Or Not
By Mike Masnick, Thu Jan 27 03:00:00 GMT 2005

It seems like there's been quite a fascination with mobile viruses lately -- even if the threat is overblown. The latest hysteria is about the possibility that certain cars might be susceptible to mobile viruses.

It certainly makes for a good sounding story. You're driving down the street, and all of a sudden your car freaks out and you have to stop. You have it towed, and the mechanic tells you that you must have "caught a virus" from a passing car. At least that's the image many people probably received when they read about the threat of a mobile virus hitting a few different Lexus models.

The details are fairly vague, however. The article isn't even clear on whether this actually happened, or if people are just discussing the possibility of it happening. The story first came about from a blog posting on an anti-virus software firm's website, claiming that the company had received a request on how to remove a virus from a vehicle. This, however, appears to be plenty for an eager press that simply can't wait to hype up the next big virus threat -- making anti-virus companies very happy, since they thrive on sales following each of these types of announcements.

The problem, however, is that most of these viruses are nothing at all to worry about -- unless you're very, very stupid, in which case, it's likely you have other problems to worry about than a virus hitting your phone or car. While virus writers are getting craftier about how they create mobile viruses, most users have absolutely nothing to fear.

There certainly is a risk that eventually these sorts of viruses will become a problem. The always-on nature of mobile connections, combined with the building of wireless technologies into all sorts of products, certainly could lead to unfortunate situations eventually. However, there's simply no reason to get panicked over what's not a real threat right now. Any "solution" is only going to be good against existing threats, and those existing threats are barely threats at all. It's good to know that anti-virus firms are keeping an eye out on these types of problems, and it's likely they'll create solutions pretty quickly as each new problem arises. However, chances are you have nothing to worry about from each of these blaring headlines. You should also be comfortable driving down the road, recognizing that any "lethal payload" is more likely to be delivered by poor driving habits than any Bluetooth-borne computer virus.