Feeds

Car virus myth debunked

Rumour crushed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Rumours that the Bluetooth systems of cars are at risk from infection from mobile phone viruses have been debunked.

Anti-virus firm F-Secure tested a Toyota Prius and failed, despite exhaustive attempts, to infect the car's systems with variants of the infamous Cabir worm, the most wide-spreading piece of mobile code malware to date.

F-Secure's experiment confirms Toyota's rebuttal of rumours that on-board computers of its Lexus cars were susceptible to infection by viruses that spread using Bluetooth, such as Cabir.

Toyota said its Lexus (and Prius) cars do not use Symbian OS, and therefore can't be infected by Cabir. F-Secure's tests confirmed this. They also showed that on-board systems ignored the Bluetooth traffic generated by an infected mobile phone. Even attempts to transfer Cabir-infected SIS files to the car manually using a special file transfer program failed.

An F-Secure researcher also tried other Bluetooth attacks against the car on got the shock of his life when car systems locked up displaying the following error message: "The transmission lock mechanism is abnormal. Park your car on a flat surface, and fully apply the hand brake". Blimey.

Restarting the car cleared the problem but the same test repeatedly crashed car computer systems. The behaviour raised serious concerns. But after double checking systems F-Secure realised low-battery voltage - rather than Bluetooth attacks - were responsible for the car's systems going haywire.

"After fixing the battery problem, we continued tests and Toyota Prius performed admirably. We managed to find one minor issue with the system (a corrupted phone name would freeze the on-board display), but otherwise the Prius Bluetooth system was far more stable than our test phones and PCs. We had to reboot our test systems several times as their Bluetooth systems died on us, while Toyota Prius just kept going," Jarno Niemela, a researcher at F-Secure's Labs who carried out the tests, concluded. ®

Related stories

My car has a virus (and other security threats)
Users untouched by mobile viruses despite hype
Mobile botnet threat downplayed
Text me and I'll reply with a virus

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.