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The Shoddy State of Automotive Wireless Security 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-wait-for-toyota-two-point-oh dept.
angry tapir writes "Researchers from Rutgers University and University of South Carolina have found that wireless communications between new cars and their tires can be intercepted or even forged. While the potential for misuse may be minimal, this vulnerability points to a troubling lack of rigor with secure software development for new automobiles, said Wenyuan Xu, a computer science assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, who was a co-lead on the study. The researchers will present their findings at the Usenix Security Symposium, being held this week in Washington DC."
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The Shoddy State of Automotive Wireless Security

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  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:02AM (#33201212) Homepage Journal

    If the potential for misuse is minimal, then it's only common sense to make the tire communications simple and easy to troubleshoot, and to assign the security people to work on something that matters.

    • by pwagland (472537) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:24AM (#33201274) Journal
      That is a valid point about the communications, however, from the article, if incorrect data is sent by something pretending to be the tire gauge, it was enough to corrupt the controller to the point where even a simple reboot was not enough to fix it. It had to be replaced by the dealer. Certainly resources need to be allocated wisely however when the device crashes due to invalid inputs, that is at best annoying, at worst very expensive to repair.
      • by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:36AM (#33201556)
        And that goes back to input checking. Never trust your inputs. It's possible that interference could create the same pattern, so they should filter the inputs. But, security isn't needed. Just high school level programming basics. (security could reduce the possibility of bad inputs, but never assume valid inputs when you could just as easily check them)
        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          Hmm...I remember when I got one of the newer (at the time) C5 Vettes, with the run flat tires and thought it was pretty cool to be able to monitor the tire pressure in each tire from the cockpit.

          I can understand the need for this system for run flat tires, especially since you carry NO spare with you, but I can't imagine that many 'normal' cars out there today are going with run flats. If not...why are newer cars bothering with wireless from the tires??

          Are there actually that many non-performance new car

          • by RMH101 (636144)
            New Minis all come with run-flats. Most BMWs do, too. They're horrible things that ruin the ride, but very common indeed in Europe.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by MachDelta (704883)

            Any vehicle sold in the US after September 1, 2007 is supposed to have a TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) as mandated by the TREAD act.

            Why? Because no one knows how to check the air pressure in their tires anymore.
            That and the whole Firestone fiasco.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        Certainly resources need to be allocated wisely however when the device crashes due to invalid inputs, that is at best annoying, at worst very expensive to repair.

        Never attribute to incompetence that which can be explained by greedy self-interest. The auto manufacturers and dealeer make money off these defective devices. I call foul.

    • by CdBee (742846) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:33AM (#33201318)
      Cars don't need wireless sensors. In fact they don't need most of the electronics that gets built in at all. This may seem old-fashioned but for nearly a century a complicated non-electronic system called 'THE DRIVER" would monitor the state of the car and act appropriately when a deflating tyre is detected. I believe this system is moderately effective and not subject to radio spoofing.

      Ask me to design my ideal car and it'll have a lightweight but strong aluminium body, a simple, efficient diesel engine, comfortable seats and a decent stereo. Everything else is chaff, I don't even need ABS.
      • by wgoodman (1109297)

        New cars have a lot more sound insulation, and louder stereos so it's a lot harder to know when a tire is getting low based on the sound. I've been on plenty of crappy roads where I've pulled over cause it felt like the tire was shot, It's kind of nice to have a little light save be a few min.

        • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:20AM (#33201496) Homepage

          You can use the ABS sensors to detect a soft tyre. Some Volkswagens can actually have a soft tyre warning added, by a firmware update!

          Basically what you do is you measure the output of all four wheel sensors (as the ABS unit does anyway), and see if one is consistently a higher speed than the others. Soft tyre == smaller rolling radius == faster rotation for the same road speed. It won't catch if all your tyres are equally flat.

      • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:59AM (#33201426)

        Ask me to design my ideal car and it'll have a lightweight but strong aluminium body, a simple, efficient diesel engine, comfortable seats and a decent stereo. Everything else is chaff, I don't even need ABS.

        I'd rather have airbags than a decent stereo.

        However, before even thinking about airbags, I'd really enjoy to have lights, windshield, mirrors, ...

        Brakes are nice too. unless you're planning to go slow enough to brake with your foot.

        • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:02AM (#33201438)

          Ask me to design my ideal car and it'll have a lightweight but strong aluminium body, a simple, efficient diesel engine, comfortable seats and a decent stereo. Everything else is chaff, I don't even need ABS.

          I'd rather have airbags than a decent stereo.

          However, before even thinking about airbags, I'd really enjoy to have lights, windshield, mirrors, ...

          Brakes are nice too. unless you're planning to go slow enough to brake with your foot.

          Wheels are a nice feature too.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Ask me to design my ideal car and it'll have a lightweight but strong aluminium body, a simple, efficient diesel engine, comfortable seats and a decent stereo. Everything else is chaff, I don't even need ABS.

            I'd rather have airbags than a decent stereo.

            However, before even thinking about airbags, I'd really enjoy to have lights, windshield, mirrors, ...

            Brakes are nice too. unless you're planning to go slow enough to brake with your foot.

            Wheels are a nice feature too.

            Nah, they're just a fad.

          • by TheKidWho (705796)

            I'd add a decent steering wheel to that too.

            • by cynyr (703126)

              how about we remove the air bags, and move to anchored 5 point harnesses, and helmets with HANS devices. I'll keep the wheels, and the steering wheel ideas though. Airbags are dumb, an attempt to keep the squishy meat bag from hitting something hard when they are being tossed around the car. It's much simpler to simply stop the meat bag flying around in the first place. My kids are in 5 point harnesses attached to the seat frames, why not me too?

          • He forgot a transmission too.

        • by CdBee (742846)
          Most people would have included those things as defining features of a car and therefore unworthy of mention.
        • by MiniMike (234881) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:08AM (#33203102)

          Brakes are nice too. unless you're planning to go slow enough to brake with your foot.

          His ideal car doesn't have a transmission or wheels, so unless he's on a steep enough hill that his lightweight but strong aluminum body can skid down it, he'll just be sitting in his driveway going 'vroom vroom' anyway. If his ideal house has a driveway, that is. As his ideal car also doesn't have a floor pan, he'll have no trouble using his feet to pretend to brake.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        Cars don't need wireless sensors. In fact they don't need most of the electronics that gets built in at all. This may seem old-fashioned but for nearly a century a complicated non-electronic system called 'THE DRIVER" would monitor the state of the car and act appropriately when a deflating tyre is detected.

        I'm not arguing if favour of sensors, be them wireless or not. Just pointing why we are in the situation of discussing over "tyre sensor hijacking" now, maybe there's something to learn.

        From TFA:

        The U.S. has required such systems in new automobiles since 2008, thanks to legislation passed after controversy erupted over possible defective Firestone tires in 2000.

        A bit of google-ing around resulted into this [wikipedia.org], with the relevant section being:

        Many outside observers tend towards blaming both parties; Firestone's tires being prone to tread separation and failure, and the SUVs being especially prone to rolling over if a tire fails at speed compared to other vehicles.

        To summarize:

        1. two corporation releases products "defective by design" (no anti-DRM, at least not yet). Put together and the driver would have little chance to avoid a sudden tyre deflating followed by the SUV rolling over
        2. at least one ov
      • by nospam007 (722110) * on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @05:06AM (#33201650)

        "a complicated non-electronic system called 'THE DRIVER" would monitor the state of the car and act appropriately "

        Is that the system that is unable to differentiate between gas and breaks in a Toyota?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AlecC (512609)

        Over past decades there has been a continuous fall in fatalities per mile driven. This is, to a large extent, due to continuous small improvements, of which this is one. Of course you may be savvy enough to keep your tires properly inflated - but the average Joe Public isn't - or at least 10% of Joe Public. And properly inflated tires reduce the risk of accidents, in which Joe Public can kill not only himself but also you. You may, indeed, be an above average driver (like 90% of the population, in their opi

      • by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @05:53AM (#33201944) Journal

        You might think you don't need ABS, but as another driver on the road, I'd prefer you had it. I'd prefer it a lot.

        I don't care if you think you can pump the brakes well. ABS can pump them a lot faster, and it can do something you can't ever do without drastically changing the controls design: it can pump the brakes individually by wheel.

        If the only danger was you sliding off a curve into a a tree or ravine after losing your steering, I'd say, "Go for it, we can always use less people." But it's not. There's also the danger of you not being able to avoid an accident with me, and I like being alive!.

        Please be considerate of your other drivers.

        • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @06:59AM (#33202488) Homepage

          I don't care if you think you can pump the brakes well. ABS can pump them a lot faster, and it can do something you can't ever do without drastically changing the controls design: it can pump the brakes individually by wheel.
          Not sure why parent is a troll, since he is correct modern ABS can brake each wheel individually allowing for maximum control under braking. So unless you're driving the McLaren MP4/12, ABS can do a better job braking each wheel then you can.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by jimbolauski (882977)
            ABS is over-rated and will actually cause the car to stop slower, all it is good for is people that panic and stomp on their brakes which would put them in a spin otherwise.
          • by cynyr (703126)

            modern ABS... hmm so all of those late 90's early 2000's cars are probably not equipped to that. Also if the diver is driving correctly he/she shouldn't be close enough to another car to need ABS. Well maybe if another driver cuts them off, and then breaks hard, but if you are doing that you caused the accident and ABS won't help much. To this day I have yet to have ABS come on in dry conditions, but i find it sucks for slowly stopping at a stop sign in the snow/ice. in my '95 it fails to detect wheel movem

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          ABS has been shown not to reduce accidents. Therefore you don't really need to care if other drivers have ABS. However, it can still help YOU if YOU have it, IF you can exercise the restraint required to drive as if you don't have ABS.

          • While it's true that ABS doesn't help, electronic traction control does indeed help significantly. It's also more expensive of course...

      • Cars don't need wireless sensors. In fact they don't need most of the electronics that gets built in at all. This may seem old-fashioned but for nearly a century a complicated non-electronic system called 'THE DRIVER" would monitor the state of the car and act appropriately when a deflating tyre is detected. I believe this system is moderately effective and not subject to radio spoofing.

        This may come as a surprise to you, but there are an awful lot of idiots driving around out there.

        Folks who don't even respond when the car clearly informs them that their tires are low.

        And you want to rely on these idiots to accurately sense and diagnose everything that can go wrong with their vehicles?

        If they were all driving on some closed course somewhere and their assorted issues only affected them, it would be one thing. But that isn't the case. I'm sharing the road with them. And when one of them

        • by CdBee (742846)
          Actually in some of the conditions you specify - most specifically loose gravel - ABS dramatically reduces braking ability compared to a car without it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        This may seem old-fashioned but for nearly a century a complicated non-electronic system called 'THE DRIVER" would monitor the state of the car and act appropriately when a deflating tyre is detected.

        Your strategy is fine for racing vehicles, but ABS provides additional safety to those who do not believe it to be magical and disable switches are very easy to implement since all ABS fails to simple brakes. Meanwhile, we have run-flat tires that can go flat so graciously that you don't even notice until you try to make a 90 mph curve on one, and they CERTAINLY enhance vehicle safety (being less vulnerable to blowouts, let alone leaving you stranded on the uphill of the Bay Bridge in the left lane or somet

        • by CdBee (742846)
          In the last decade I've half a million miles in cars with no monitoring equipment at all and no airbags. *stops to check* - yup. Definitely still alive.

          If we took the airbags out of every new car and replaced them with a hardened steel spike you'd see an immediate reduction in traffic accidents. Technology makes people cocky. Skill and a direct relationship with the car is the cure.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        It's not about the cars, it's about the dealerships. More complicated electronics means more expensive repairs, more work that only the dealership can do (many third-party garages can't keep up anymore), and more maintenance. That all translates to more $ for the dealership.
      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @08:55AM (#33203656)

        I hate this neo-luddite position people take when any little thing goes wrong. Your dream car is my nightmare death-trap car. I want airbags, ABS, wireless tire gauges, proximity sensors, ability to pull codes from computer, etc. I suspect most people do. If you want a specialized custom car, then built it yourself, but don't pretend your simplistic car needs speak for anyone else but yourself.

        Not to mention its foolish to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I remember people like you when the web started to become popular. "Oh who needs this crap, I already have TV and the newspaper!"

        I'm probably older than you and I certainly remember the PITA carburetors were compared to fuel injectors. Heck, my dad had to deal with vapor lock. When was the last time you needed to rebuild a carburetor or wait out vapor lock? I think you're just spoiled by the technology you decry.

        • by CdBee (742846)
          I still miss the one carburretted car I've owned. Even now after nearly 20 years.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Cars don't need wireless sensors.

        Before there were sensors in the tire to warn of low pressure, most people even then didn't check the pressure unless the tire looked low. Having an idiot light come on when your pressure is low is a GOOD thing. They've had oil pressure guages and idiot lights for probably almost as long as there have been engines, why not a tire pressure sensor as well?

        I don't even need ABS.

        ABS will get a car stopped faster than an identical car without ABS, even with a driver trained in em

        • by CdBee (742846)
          ABS will get a car stopped faster than an identical car without ABS, even with a driver trained in emergency situations

          Provably not true
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Xacid (560407)

        But then they let women drive... /obligatory mysogyny.

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        "Ask me to design my ideal car and it'll have a lightweight but strong aluminium body, a simple, efficient diesel engine, comfortable seats and a decent stereo. Everything else is chaff, I don't even need ABS."

        1969 Land Rover Diesel, aftermarket stereo, you may not find the seats adequate.

        You didn't specify sufficient climate control, sound deadening, rollover characteristics, or 5-mph bumpers. Nor did you specify windshield wipers, functional defrosters, or any number of other useful safety features. But

    • by DDLKermit007 (911046) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:15AM (#33201484)
      Actually this is all old hat at this point. This guy is just stealing from a Def Con talk which needs attribution to Mike Hertzfeld. I was at the talk that first brought this about. It was a little jaw dropping. He came up with ways to track people around cities using the information from the systems. That in itself isn't so bad since almost everyone has Bluetooth and/or active wireless scanning enabled on their phones, but I digress (the police use this method already since it requires no court order). The really meat & potatoes was where if he flooded the system with garbage data over the wireless something interesting happened, the car shut off. Thats the real crazy part to me, that the system is that vulnerable.
  • by http (589131) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:11AM (#33201234) Homepage Journal
    FTFA:

    Xu said that while it is possible to track someone by their tire IDs, the feasibility of doing so would be quite low. "Someone would have to invest money at putting receivers at different locations," she said. Also multiple tire manufacturers have different types of sensors, requiring different receivers. Each receiver in this test cost US$1,500.

    Oh yeah, good thing RFID detectors are so freaking expensive. Plus, someone covertly tracking you is going to be really upset if they can't read your tyre pressure.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:28AM (#33201290) Journal
      By the way someone who wants to track a car can use these very convenient numbered plaques visible in front and in the back of the car with only a cheap camera and on-the-shelf software.

      I wonder however if a bad pressure signal could be forged, forcing the car to stop ?
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "By the way someone who wants to track a car can use these very convenient numbered plaques visible in front and in the back of the car with only a cheap camera and on-the-shelf software."

        Dunno where you live, but I only have to have 1 license plate on my car...on the rear.

        I'm currently working to surround it with infared LED's, to try to deter simple cameras from easily reading that too.

        :P

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        I wonder however if a bad pressure signal could be forged, forcing the car to stop ?

        Actually, that could be very useful for cops...and stalkers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anachragnome (1008495)

      "Plus, someone covertly tracking you is going to be really upset if they can't read your tyre pressure."

      I think you fail to recognize the seriousness of the capabilities of a simple RFID system.

      Most people do not think much about the RFID chips in their tires until they realize (are told) that EVERY stoplight out there has multiple sensor grids built right into the roadbed (to sense the presence of cars and be able to control the lights accordingly). The looks on their faces usually change the moment compre

      • A secondary coil or dual resonant tuning would be required. The frequency for vehicle detection and RFID are several orders of magnatude different in frequency. Induction loop vehicle sensors are most often 10-50 KHZ.

        RFID tags use either LF: 125-134.2 kHz and 140-148.5 kHz, 13.56 Mhz, or UHF 868-928 MHz frequencies.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          A secondary coil or dual resonant tuning would be required. The frequency for vehicle detection and RFID are several orders of magnatude different in frequency. Induction loop vehicle sensors are most often 10-50 KHZ.

          If they use a frequency in the proper range that is a multiple of the vehicle detection frequency, can't they use the existing antenna? It's a lot bigger than it needs to be...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by marten_77 (590526)
        It should be pointed out that sometimes these tracking features (such as OnStar) can be used in ways that actually do not serve the interests of the government. For instance, in my jurisdiction, police recently set up a sting operation designed to catch car thieves. Undercover agents set up a storefront for purchasing stolen cars, and collected dozens of vehicles over about a half-year period. When car thieves would come in to sell the cars, they would be paid in marked bills, and the undercover agents wo
      • by AK Marc (707885)
        That's nothing that can't already be done with red light cameras. No RFID necessary.
      • by tweak13 (1171627) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @05:46AM (#33201896)

        Go try and buy new tires and see how far you get when you refuse to tell the dealer your name. He (or rather, the government) wants a name associated with the tires RFID chips

        As someone who sold tires for years, I can tell you that there's a foolproof way to get tires without giving out your name. I realize it's crafty and devious, which is why you may not have thought of it. Here it is: Make something up. Wild, I know, but there's about a 99% chance it will work because nobody gives a shit. Seriously, take off the tinfoil hat.

        When I was working for a major chain selling tires, I asked for a name for one and only one reason. Our software wouldn't let me make an invoice without a name. It also required a few other things, but it's just as easy to make up a phone number too. If you lied to me at any point, how the hell would I know? It's not like I asked people to present ID to get tires.

      • Do they also drop when you point out the 3" tall sequence of number on the front/back of their car is unique to that car and easily readable by roadside cameras, the police or passers-by using built-in organic sensors?

      • Ummmm....most of the time, they ask you your name so when they are finished and you are walking around the local Wally World waiting on your tires to be installed, they don't have to page you over the store PA and say "Would the person with the mohawk and stud in their tongue please return to automotive? Your car is ready".....duhhhh.... Fricken paranoid...
      • by couchslug (175151)

        "Why is it SO important they have a name? "

        In order to direct snail mail spam.

      • by Jawnn (445279)

        Go try and buy new tires and see how far you get when you refuse to tell the dealer your name. He (or rather, the government) wants a name associated with the tires RFID chips, and usually ask for all sorts of additional info--for "warranty reasons". Even paying with cash, they will argue with you about not giving them a name (but usually crumble when you say you'll just shop elsewhere). Why is it SO important they have a name? So they can help you join the next class-action against a tire manufacturer?

        Sorry, not buying it. If Discount Tires is working for "the government", they don't need your name, the need details on your car, like, oh..., the license number.

      • by plover (150551) *

        Correlation is not your friend. You can expend a lot of energy trying to avoid giving the tire seller your name, but the first camera+RFID Reader combo you encounter will associate your tires with your license plate. This could happen at a gas station, or county courthouse, or parking garage.

        If you're that concerned, you need to kill the RFID tags. I'm not sure how you'd do that, as a tire in the microwave is not exactly feasible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:16AM (#33201248)

    We currently show you driving 95 miles an hour with four flat tires. Would you like to be routed to a service station?

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:16AM (#33201252)

    ...the government is tracking you already (where I live, toll tag transponders can be seen on telephone poles miles from the toll roads). If you have OnStar (even if it's "disabled"), GM can still locate your vehicle. I suspect it's even possible to monitor a vehicle's CANBUS for unique signatures that would identify a specific vehicle. Hell, your cell phone will give you up.

    For some reason, I'm not too worried about the RFID tags on my tire valve stems.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @03:27AM (#33201284)

      Hell, your cell phone will give you up.

      At least Rick Astley won't give you up, nor will he let you down.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheLink (130905)
      If you carry a cellphone with you and are within "coverage", you're already tracked.

      They can find out which towers your phone has been talking to and thus figure out where you've been.
      • I often move around on foot or by public transport; I'm often either not carrying a 'phone or have it switched off; I frequently don't carry ID; I pay in cash, where necessary. In short, I'm like the average human in Britain 30 years ago. One of the reasons I do this - on top of all the obvious arguments about good health, good tree-hugging, the ability to concentrate when I'm not always interruptible, etc. - is that I love knowing that I'm untrackable. What I'm doing on such a day won't be written down and

        • by plover (150551) *

          In America, most metropolitan buses have an array of CCTV cameras, continually recording on a locked-up storage device. Theoretically these deter criminals. But they record regardless of your non-criminal actions.

          • Yeah, as here, and same for newer rolling stock. Although it does take away some of the sense of freedom when I'm using public transport, such CCTV is the least intrusive record vs centrally linked cameras or tagging. I can just about cope with a grainy image, no more than someone sitting next to me on the bus would see, difficult to process, perhaps seen weeks later or never.

      • by jridley (9305)

        No. I don't keep my phone on. I'm pretty sure it's not doing anything sneaky while off, because I can leave it off for a month at a time and the battery is still in good shape, so it's not doing much, if anything when off.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "...the government is tracking you already (where I live, toll tag transponders can be seen on telephone poles miles from the toll roads). If you have OnStar (even if it's "disabled"), GM can still locate your vehicle. "

      Toll Tag == Nope!!

      OnStar == Nope!!

      Cell phone...ok, you got me now, but wanting to get one of those pouches that will block the signal when I want it to.

      Funny, I thought about it the other day when looking at some cars...was looking at one of the newer Corvettes, and it seemed ALL of the

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Hell, your cell phone will give you up.

      Not necessarily. Phones like Net10 or Boost can be paid with cash. I'm on Boost, bought the phone and fees with cash (no name) and pay the $50 monthly bill with cash by buying a PIN at a gas station.

      But I'm not worried about RFID in my ture valves either.

  • Why bother with the tire pressure when you can make instruments give false readings, kill a car engine remotely or turn off the brakes [bbc.co.uk] ?
  • by Platinumrat (1166135) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:02AM (#33201440) Journal
    Typically, I find that the engineers that work in these industries (automotive/transport/white goods/manufacturing) have very little motivation to think about security. The pressure is all on building features into products. They are generally led by electrical or mechanical engineering managers, who are pushed with limited budgets and time-to-market constraints to get something out the door. So they do the most limited research on how to add widget X to the product. As engineers, their dangerous enough to think they know how to program, when most of their experience is microcontrollers or some simple scripting. Security is something that just adds cost in most of their minds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sjames (1099)

      That's the real problem. Until they started adding wireless, the cars were perfectly secured by simple physical means. Security on the wire was irrelevant since the wire was entirely within the car. If you could access the wire, you could just add a tracking device or cut the brake line.

      Now that they're going wireless, security in the communication is starting to actually matter but they have no experience there.

  • by orange47 (1519059) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:37AM (#33201558)
    I mean, anyone can program them to go to 20000th floor and we could end up in orbit or something.
  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:41AM (#33201574)
    "If the sensor IDs were captured at roadside tracking points and stored in databases, third parties could infer or prove that the driver has visited potentially sensitive locations such as medical clinics, political meetings, or nightclubs,"

    The issue described in the article is that you can identify the tires by their RFID tag. This means that you could track cars. The article completely fails to mention that you ALREADY HAVE A FUCKING LICENSE PLATE ATTACHED TO YOUR CAR! The license plate is a unique identifier required by law on all motor vehicles. Anyone who wants to prove you visited location XYZ is simply going to use a $20 camera and get a shot of your license plate. Yeah, getting readings with RFID is a little easier then setting up a camera and some plate scanning software, but neither one is very hard for someone who wants to track you.

    As for "confounding" the control unit, that's not a problem with security, that's a problem with the fucking control unit. The article mentions that once they sent false data to it, they couldn't get the thing to work correctly even after rebooting it. Any device that can't handle junk data is worse than useless. Something being intolerant of noise is not a security problem, it's a stupid engineer problem. Sure, it might not function while you're jamming it with garbage, but if it fails to work after a reboot then you've done something seriously wrong.
  • by gmueckl (950314) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @04:53AM (#33201606)

    Tire sensors are built to run on battery for years. You can't easily get to them and change the battery, so these things are extreme low power devices. Each line of code for these controllers costs real world battery lifetime and shortens maintenance cycles. The same goes for extra crypto hardware: every transistor costs. So I'm not surprised that the protocol is not secured to oblivion. There simply isn't room for that unless battery storage capacities rise by an order of magnitude or two. So, a part of me wonders whether this researcher has had a look at the constraints of these systems and understood them before he tried to make the news.

    Still, this is no excuse for being able to corrupt the receiving controller irreparably by some protocol error. These errors can occur normally as transmission errors, not just through deliberate attacks. This is where the sloppy engineering exists and the only part of the story that is actually newsworthy.

  • Relevant experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @05:26AM (#33201752)

    A colleague recently got a call from his wife: her car dash had lit up with warning lights. After about half an hour he traced it to a single fault: an under-inflated tire, presumably reported (correctly) by one of the sensors described in TFO. One tire warning light - OK so far.But the tire warning system had talked to the ABS system, which had decided for inscrutable reasons that it wouldn't work with an underinflated tire. And that had talked to the central monitoring system, which had turned on the "Safety Critical Fault" light. And maybe a few other things. The result was, like Three Mile Island, a single underlying fault had turned into a christmas tree of warnings that an unskilled interpreter (the wife) was terrified of and a skilled engineer (my colleague, a very good hardware engineer) took half an hour to troubleshoot.

    The point being that there is a possibility for a dangerous prank here. By fooling cars into thinking their tires are dangerously underinflated, you can give the driver a serious fright - with possibilities comic to the simple minded, but potentially dangerous if the driver is distracted or does something unexpected like braking to a sudden halt.

    • by Syberz (1170343)

      So one tire pressure sensor causes a christmas tree of lights in the dash...

      Before we had the one Check Engine light for anything and everything that failed, and now we have a bunch of lights when 1 thing fails. That's progress...

    • by Muad'Dave (255648)

      My wife's Mazda 5 sounded off like the Enterprise going code red the other day because of a low tire alert. Luckily, after all the klaxons stopped sounding, a single 'idiot light' was illuminated - a tire with a '!' over it. Pretty clear. Thank heavens it was that all of her tires were a little low and not just one of them.

    • we need to get rid of the dealer lock in and let any shop be able to fix the car.

    • by eth1 (94901)

      Fool the sensor? Because tires are SO hard to partially deflate if you just want to trip the sensor.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @07:00AM (#33202502) Homepage

    Sorry but you will not figure out how to bomb a embassy by reading the tire pressure in my front left tire. All this is nothing but FUD and fear-mongering by a researcher that is late on the scene to automotive hacking. Many of us in the automotive hacking circles have done this stuff for well over 30 years. Now suddenly just because one guy who decided to make a lot of noise about it it's a problem?

    it is not a problem, ignore this attention whore.

    You cant send a virus down the tire pressure comms channel to the ECM and cause the car to explode or disable the brakes. (Except for toyota cars... JOKING!) and his demos with wirelessly changing the dashboard and other "hacks" are via a 3rd party wireless device he installed in the car.

    If I buy a new windows server and install VNC without a password can I demonstrate to the world how horribly insecure the newest windows server release is? It's the same thing. Everyone glosses over the fact that none of his hacks are possible without having the target's car for a few days and installing a lot of gear in it.

    The ONLY wireless OEM hack I have ever seen is the one where you blast mp3 files to bluetooth devices with the codes set to 0000 or 1234.. and that was to a BMW. Unfortunately it did not allow me to take control and steer the car or control the brakes. It did allow us to play audi adverts to the guy.

    • If I can shut your car off by sending it low-powered radio signals, that's a problem.

    • by Tintivilus (88810)

      The ONLY wireless OEM hack I have ever seen is the one where you blast mp3 files to bluetooth devices with the codes set to 0000 or 1234.. and that was to a BMW. Unfortunately it did not allow me to take control and steer the car or control the brakes. It did allow us to play audi adverts to the guy.

      Where'd you find a BMW with factory A2DP?

  • The A380 Runs on WEP (Score:2, Interesting)

    by static416 (1002522)

    Well the entire A380 doesn't run on WEP, but the entire cabin entertainment system does.

    And having been involved in other parts of the A380 design, I can tell you that data security problems were not even on the product development radar. Non-IT engineering companies view IT the same way that the rest of the world does and generally doesn't design against malicious uses, only accidental failures.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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