Hackers To Reveal Secrets For Hacking Moving Vehicle

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek claimed to have used a laptop to break into the software inside a Toyota Prius and Ford Escape

Car hacking is not a new field, but its secrets have long been closely guarded. That is about to change, thanks to two well-known computer software hackers who got bored finding bugs in software from Microsoft and Apple.

Security engineers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek say they have used a laptop to break into the software inside a Toyota Prius and Ford Escape and they will publish detailed blueprints of techniques for attacking critical systems in the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape in a 100-page white paper, following several months of research they conducted with a grant from the U.S. government.

The two say they hope the data they publish will encourage other white-hat hackers to uncover more security flaws in autos so they can be fixed.

Security engineers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek 

They claim it allows them to control the brakes, the accelerator, change the speedometer, flash the headlights, tighten the seat belts and sound the horn at a press of button.

what the hackers can do by hacking your car

They said they devised ways to force a Toyota Prius to brake suddenly at 80 miles an hour (128 kph), jerk its steering wheel, or accelerate the engine. They also say they can disable the brakes of a Ford Escape travelling at very slow speeds, so that the car keeps moving no matter how hard the driver presses the pedal.

At the same time, two Spanish experts are about to unveil a £16 device which they say lets them bypass security in a car’s electronic control unit.

“I trust the eyes of 100 security researchers more than the eyes that are in Ford and Toyota,” said Miller, a Twitter security engineer known for his research on hacking Apple Inc’s App Store.

Javier Vázquez Vidal said: ‘It would take no time to gain total control over a vehicle – deploying an airbag, activating the brakes or immobilising a car.’

The idea of hackers taking control of a car has been mooted for some years but experts fear that, with cars becoming increasingly computerised, it is closer than ever to reality.

In a test drive for a magazine, Mr Miller and Mr Valasek used a MacBook plugged into a Ford’s electronics to speed up the car and slam on the brakes.

They also jerked the car’s steering violently. ‘Imagine you’re driving down a highway at 80 ,’ said Mr Valasek, director of security intelligence at consulting firm IOActive. ‘You’re going into the car next to you or into oncoming traffic. That’s going to be bad times.’

Toyota Motor Corp spokesman John Hanson said the company was reviewing the work. He said the car maker had invested heavily in electronic security, but that bugs remained - as they do in cars of other manufacturers.

“It’s entirely possible to do,” Hanson said, referring to the newly exposed hacks. “Absolutely we take it seriously.”

Ford Motor Co spokesman Craig Daitch said the company takes seriously the electronic security of its vehicles. He said the fact that Miller’s and Valasek’s hacking methods required them to be inside the vehicle they were trying to manipulate mitigated the risk.

“This particular attack was not performed remotely over the air, but as a highly aggressive direct physical manipulation of one vehicle over an elongated period of time, which would not be a risk to customers and any mass level,” Daitch said.

The Spanish researchers will unveil their device at a talk called Dude, WTF In My Car at a hacking conference on Saturday.

Car-makers were quick to play down concerns, insisting their systems were secure.


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Write by: RC - Sunday, August 4, 2013

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