Car Hackers Can Disable Brakes, Change Heating/Cooling System & More

A group of researches will be presenting information at a security conference on how they have successfully cracked into a vehicles computer system. Some of the disturbing accomplishments were that the researches were able to disable the cars braking system, and while the vehicle was moving, the driver had no brakes. Some of the other hacks included changing the heating and cooling system[blasting hot air at the driver], disabling the radio or blasting music at the driver and more.

In a recent report it also stated that:

“In starting this project we expected to spend significant effort reverse-engineering, with non-trivial effort to identify and exploit each subtle vulnerability,” they write in their paper. “However, we found existing automotive systems-at least those we tested-to be tremendously fragile.”

To hack the cars, they needed to learn about the Controller Area Network (CAN) system, mandated as a diagnostic tool for all U.S. cars built, starting in 2008. They developed a program called CarShark that listens in on CAN traffic as it’s sent about the onboard network, and then built ways to add their own network packets.

Step-by-step, they figured out how to take over computer-controlled car systems: the radio, instrument panel, engine, brakes, heating and air conditioning, and even the body controller system, used to pop the trunk, open windows, lock doors and toot the horn.

They developed a lot of attacks using a technique called “fuzzing” — where they simply spit a large number of random packets at a component and see what happens.

“The computer control is essential to a lot of the safety features that we depend on,” Savage said. “When you expose those same computers to an attack, you can have very surprising results, such as you put your foot down on a brake pedal and it doesn’t stop.”

This is interesting research results, but I seriously doubt this currently will pose a problem. However, some day hackers may be able to have easier access to our cars if and when more wireless features are introduced on future vehicles.

Comments welcome.

You can read the complete report in .pdf  here.

Source – PC World

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I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • Dick

    Phew! Don’t like the sound of this. I wonder how important it is to vehicle maintenance that it be wireless? Is it too much trouble to connect a plug to the computer?

    What’s to stop someone from blasting a bunch of noise at your vehicle while riding down the highway? Take a look at the mentality of the majority of computer vandals we have to endure now. They’d probably think it was cool to see someone go off the road.

    Here’s a growth industry for you. Design a device that disables wireless on vehicles. You could develop an infomercial and sell it for $29.95 and it would only cost you about 50 cents to make. The marketing writes itself. Cars careening off the highway with Grandma or Soccer Mom driving. Who wouldn’t buy it?

    • Ron Schenone

      Here is where the money is:

      Just $29.95 plus s&h of $7.95 [this last part has to be in small print]
      BUT WAIT! We will send you [2] for $29.95 and you just pay shipping.

      We make $16 for s&h that costs us about $4 – our profit $12

      Have the units made in China for a nickle a piece, shipping maybe another nickle a unit, plus TV ad for a dime per unit.

      $29.95 – $.20 to make, ship and advertise = profit of $29.75 plus $12 = total profit about $40 a unit.

      You sell millions and the next thing you know you are sitting with Joan Rivers on How’d You Get So Rich! LOL

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  • Dick

    Sell it to Ron Popeil (RONCO Guy) for about a million and don’t worry about the rest.

    BTW, I actually own a Ginsu knife and have had it for 25 years. Use it for bread. I’ve still got 25 years to go on the warranty! I won’t live that long, but it’s a comfort to know the knife will be covered.

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  • swordofdestiny

    Here’s my question, is it possible to disable that CAN thing?