Feeds

Hackers spoof car warning system

Blowout

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Computer scientists have brought new meaning to the term war driving by hacking into a moving car's wirelessly-connected warning systems and generating fake error messages.

A team from the University of South Carolina and Rutgers sent fake tire pressure messages to the onboard computer, generating bogus warning messages. Tire pressure monitoring systems have been compulsory for US vehicles since 2008. The same technology may soon become compulsory in Europe, The H Security reports.

The researchers got the transmission of fake messages to work over a range of up to 40 metres or, more impressively, between two moving vehicles in close proximity travelling at 70kph. The technology to carry out the hack only costs about $1,500 but the trick reportedly took a great deal of ingenuity to pull off. The clever bit involved spoofing wireless sensors and transmitting messages rather than bypassing security controls, which were notable by their absence, as the researchers explain:

Reverse-engineering of the underlying protocols revealed static 32 bit identifiers and that messages can be easily triggered remotely, which raises privacy concerns as vehicles can be tracked through these identifiers.

Further, current protocols do not employ authentication and vehicle implementations do not perform basic input validation, thereby allowing for remote spoofing of sensor messages. We validated this experimentally by triggering tyre pressure warning messages in a moving vehicle from a customized software radio attack platform located in a nearby vehicle.

The researchers presented their findings, which included recommendations on how to improve in-car wireless network security and privacy, in a paper presented to the 19th Usenix Security Symposium in Washington on Thursday. Screenshots of the hack in action can be found in a write-up of the attack by motoring news site Jalopnik, here.

Cars are increasingly run using multiple embedded micro-processors. This has opened up a new avenue of research for computer security scientists, but up until now demonstrated hacks have relied on obtaining a physical connection to a car's computer. The latest research shows that wireless hacks are possible, so we should be thankful that malware infections of vehicle systems have never occurred. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
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
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.