Feeds

Car virus myth debunked

Rumour crushed

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.