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Charlie Miller to tell Vegas punters how to hack your car

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An eagerly anticipated talk by Charlie Miller on car hacking, rejected by organisers of the Black Hat security conference, will get an airing in Las Vegas this summer after all.

Charlie Miller, a security engineer at Twitter, and Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence at IOActive, are due to present a talk on Adventures in Automotive Networks and Control Units at Def Con 21, it was confirmed on Monday.

The talk (abstract below) promises to lift the bonnet on the security shortcomings of car network systems, including those related to braking and steering. The presentation promises to be standing room only.

Automotive computers, or Electronic Control Units (ECU), were originally introduced to help with fuel efficiency and emissions problems of the 1970s but evolved into integral parts of in-car entertainment, safety controls, and enhanced automotive functionality.

This presentation will examine some controls in two modern automobiles from a security researcher's point of view. We will first cover the requisite tools and software needed to analyze a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus. Secondly, we will demo software to show how data can be read and written to the CAN bus.

Then we will show how certain proprietary messages can be replayed by a device hooked up to an OBD-II connection to perform critical car functionality, such as braking and steering.

Finally, we'll discuss aspects of reading and modifying the firmware of ECUs installed in today's modern automobile.

Miller (@0xcharlie), a security engineer at Twitter, is best known for his exploits as the first to break into both the iPhone and the G1 Android phone. He is also a four time winner of the CanSecWest Pwn2Own competition.

Valasek is well known for his research on Windows heap exploits. Miller said their talk builds on previous research into the computer security of networked car systems, with the important difference that the two researchers will "reveal details and release tools".

Def Con 21 is due to take place between 1-3 August at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.

The entry of Miller's car hacking talk on the Def Con roster follows a surprise rejection of the same talk by Black Hat organisers. He said:

®

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