Lexus cars may be vulnerable to viruses that infect them via mobile phones. Landcruiser 100 models LX470 and LS430 have been discovered with infected operating systems that transfer within a range of 15 feet.
"If infected mobile devices are scary, just thinking about an infected onboard computer..," said Eugene Kaspersky, head of anti-virus research at Russian firm Kaspersky. "We do know that car manufacturers are integrating existing operating systems into their onboard computers (take the Fiat and Microsoft deal, for instance)."
It is understood the virus could affect the navigation system of the Lexus models, it transfers onto them via a Bluetooth mobile phone connection. It is still unclear which operating system the cars in question use.
"At this stage it's still early but it just goes to show that technology has consequences," said David Emm, senior technology consultant at Kaspersky. "It's scary stuff."
Vulnerable operating systems are increasingly moving onto a number of different devices. Last year the Slammer worm infected 13,000 Bank of America ATMs as a result of them moving to a Windows-based operating system.
"I've even seen screenshots of major commercial aeroplanes with Windows 2000-based operating systems," said Mikko Hypponen, director of anti-virus research at Finnish firm F-Secure. "Cars are an obvious target for viruses. It's okay if you don't use the operating system for the engine and the brakes, but when you do..."
Bill Gates is a known Lexus driver. In 1999 he auctioned one for charity.
When contacted Lexus declined to comment.