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updated 3/14/2011 2:14:10 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:14:10

You won’t hear it, and you won’t know it’s happening, but the next time you put a CD in your car stereo, you could be giving a hacker access to your car’s entire computer system.

Security researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington were able to add extra code to a digital music file, effectively creating a Trojan horse, PC World reported.

Once inserted into the car’s stereo, the Trojan track gave the researchers the ability to alter the stereo’s firmware, and from there, they gained access to the car’s full computer system. The track could be spread via file-sharing networks, the researchers said.

“It’s hard to think of something more innocuous than a song,” Stefan Savage, a UCSD professor told PC World.

The details of the stereo hack – and other attacks via a car’s Bluetooth system and cellular network — were published in the paper, “Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces.” The researchers performed the hack on a 2009 car, but would not say what make or model.

As modern cars become increasingly wired — their internal networks accessible over the Internet — it’s likely that criminals will continue to employ devious technological tricks to take advantage of owners.

Earlier this year, Swiss researchers devised a way to open a locked car and turn on its engine by rigging the car’s keyless entry device.

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