Hacked electric skateboards could send riders flying

Two security researchers recently showed how electric skateboards are vulnerable to hackers.

boosted boards electric skateboard
Credit: Boosted

Skateboarding can be a fun way to get around town, and electric skateboards make commuting via skateboard a more viable option for many. But as a recent Wired article reminds us, electric skateboards are effectively computers on wheels, and unless they’re properly secured, they too can be vulnerable to hacking.

According to Wired, security researchers Richo Healy and Mike Ryan hacked a motorized longboard-style skateboard from Boosted to control it remotely from a nearby laptop. Their exploit, which they fittingly named FacePlant, takes advantage of the unsecured Bluetooth connection between the board and the remote control you use as you ride.

With FacePlant, Healy and Ryan interrupt the unencrypted Bluetooth connection between the remote and the board. As a result, they are able to commandeer the board and cause it to abruptly roll backwards. As a result, the rider gets thrown off the board and, you know, faceplants. 

Healy and Ryan tell Wired that the board slows briefly before it begins to roll backwards, so if you’re alert enough, you can prepare yourself. But if not, you’ll likely end up eating asphalt.

boosted boards electric remote Boosted

Boosted’s electric skateboard remote.

According to Wired, the researchers reported this issue to Boosted back in September of last year, but the company has yet to address the flaw. Healy and Ryan say that other electric skateboards—and electric bikes—may be vulnerable to other flaws. 

Head on over to Wired for the full skinny on the Healy and Ryan’s hack, and to see a video of the hack in action. It might be enough to make you stick to pushing around the old-fashioned way.

At the moment, you probably don’t need to worry too much about mischief-makers hacking into your electric skateboard as you cruise down the street, but Healy and Ryan’s work serves as another reminder that transportation tech companies need to take security more seriously before someone gets hurt.

This story, "Hacked electric skateboards could send riders flying" was originally published by PCWorld.

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