Feeds

British boffin muzzled after cracking car codes

Meanwhile in the USA, DARPA funds similar research

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Here is a tale of two security research presentations, both looking at motor vehicle security in a world in which even the humblest shopping trolley now has more brainpower than a moonshot.

Flavio Garcia, a University of Birmingham lecturer familiar with insecurity in car systems – here, for example, is a paper he co-authored with Roel Verdult and Josep Balasch for 2012 – has been blocked from presenting to Usenix 2013, thanks to a House of Lords injunction requested by Volkswagen.

Volkswagen took exception to Garcia's intended presentation to the long-running and respected conference, entitled Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer. As The Telegraph in the UK reports, Justice Birss of the Lords decided that publication of the paper would mean “car crime will be facilitated”.

Megamos is the family of RFID chips used by a number of vehicle makers. VW asked Garcia to publish a redacted version of the paper, which he declined to do.

Garcia's treatment is in stark contrast to the laurels being heaped on America's Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek ahead of the upcoming DefCon conference in Las Vegas. Their demonstration of how to interfere with on-board computers was accepted at the Vegas con.

Miller and Valasek connect a laptop to the diagnostic ports of a Prius and a Ford Escape, and from there, show that the laptop can issue instructions to the vehicles' ECU (electronic control unit), including steering, acceleration, braking and the horn.

As part of the leadup to DefCon, snippets of their work are getting previewed left right and centre, without a lawsuit in sight.

Even though the pair promise to release their source code after DefCon, they have a key advantage over Garcia: America's First Amendment. The fact that their work was funded by DARPA doesn't hurt, especially since Miller told the BBC the work involved destroying a few cars. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.