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Imagine hackers remotely locking you out of your own car and holding it for ransom. It could very we

Imagine you car has been stolen. It’s brand new, you’ve barely made your third payment and it’s your first luxury car, a Mercedes or BMW with all the bells and whistles. You held onto the old Taurus until the fenders almost rusted off, got pre-approved credit at the bank and cross-shopped online so assiduously that you could probably start writing for

Now it’s gone, the thrust of that turbocharged engine – more power and better fuel economy, promised the salesperson – no longer making the daily commute at least a little entertaining. In fact, how are you going to get to work this morning?

And, damn, I think the kid left her homework in the back seat. Crap, Bob’s coming back from his business trip tonight: How will I pick him up? Now, here’s the final insult, the kicker that makes you feel just that much more helpless: Your car is still in the driveway.

It’s called ransomware and it could well be the future of car theft. Already the scourge of computer servers, small businesses and now hospitals, security experts, the FBI and even Interpol are predicting that automotive ransom is the next big thing in auto theft.

Here’s how it works: “Black hat” hackers — that’s the bad kind — install a worm that disables people’s most precious files. Then they let them stew helplessly for a couple of hours, so that, when they finally send a malicious little email demanding money in return for control of the hard drive, the ransom demand is almost welcomed.

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