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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
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
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
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.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.