Fired Worker Hacks System, Disables 100 Cars Remotely

Ex-employee allegedly abused no-start system
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2010 12:50 PM CDT
In this Feb. 24, 2009 file photo, hundreds of imported cars are stored in a lot after being offloaded from a ship at Port Hueneme, Calif.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

(Newser) – More than 100 Texas drivers got an unexpected surprise late last month when their cars started honking inexplicably or simply stopped working. The hacker charged with causing the problems was arrested yesterday, Wired reports. Omar Ramos-Lopez used to work at the auto center that sold the cars—which were armed with a controversial device allowing them to be fiddled with remotely if customers fell behind on payments—and he allegedly abused the system as revenge after being laid off.

“Some customers complained of the horns going off in the middle of the night. The only option they had was to remove the battery,” says the auto center manager. Other victims missed work or called tow trucks. The 20-year-old ex-employee “was pretty good with computers,” the manager recalls; a co-owner of the no-start system continues with that understatement trend: “What happened was he went in and created a little bit of havoc.”

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