Hand-Sized Device Can Hack Cars Remotely, Researchers Call for Greater Security
February 6, 2014 11:50 AM
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The device will be presented at the Black Hat Asia security conference in Singapore next month
A team of Spanish security researchers is out to
beef up auto security
by showing its ability to hack a car with a device the size of your hand.
, security researchers Javier Vazquez-Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera plan to show a new device they've built at the Black Hat Asia security conference in Singapore next month -- and they're hoping it will be a wake-up call for the auto industry.
The device is called the CAN Hacking Tool (CHT) and it attaches via four wires to the Controller Area Network or CAN bus of a vehicle. It draws power from the car’s electrical system and allows an attacker to send wireless commands remotely from a computer.
The researchers say it's as easy as lifting the hood real quick or simply sliding under the car to attach the device to a vehicle and walk away.
From there, the attacker could switch off headlights, set off alarms, roll windows up and down, and access anti-lock brakes or emergency brakes. The researchers have already tested it on four different vehicles, although they won't reveal which makes and models.
CHT [SOURCE: Forbes]
For right now, the device only works using Bluetooth, which means it can be controlled from just a few feet away. But the research team said that by the time the conference rolls around next year, it will implement a GSM cellular radio, which will allow remote control of the vehicle from a few miles away.
“It can take five minutes or less to hook it up and then walk away,” said Vazquez-Vidal. “We could wait one minute or one year, and then trigger it to do whatever we have programmed it to do.”
What makes matters worse is that the items needed to build the device can all easily be bought from store shelves, and costs under $20 total.
Also, it's nearly impossible to trace the attacker, according to the researchers.
The team said they built the device to show automakers what attackers are capable of, and to call for greater security in cars, which are becoming increasingly connected and more vulnerable to hacks.
“The goal isn’t to release our hacking tool to the public and say ‘take this and start hacking cars,’” says Vazquez-Vidal. “We want to reach the manufacturers and show them what can be done.”
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2/7/2014 10:32:32 AM
Knowing about the possability isn't a bad thing, but it also really beggs the question uf usefulness. Breaking into a car isn't hard, and access to the bus is easy, but you still need to know how to modify the OS to get it to do what you want. While they all have to give the same diagnostic info per ODB II, the actual software is custom, hence all the effort and money for aftermarket tuners and high end diagnostic machines.
If someone wants to go to that kind of trouble there are lots of other things they can do probably more easily than hacking your car. When this can be done using a smart phone app over BT or wifi then it's time to worry, but as this stands it's no different than a lock pick.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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