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News English News Car Hackers Can Kill Brakes, Engine, and More
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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."

Fragile Firmware

Another discovery: although industry standards say that onboard systems are supposed to be protected against unauthorized firmware updates, the researchers found that they could change the firmware on some systems without any sort of authentication.

In one attack that the researchers call "Self-destruct" they launch a 60 second countdown on the driver's dashboard that's accompanied by a clicking noise, and then finally warning honks in the final seconds. As the time hits zero, the car's engine is killed and the doors are locked. This attack takes less than 200 lines of code -- most of it devoted to keeping time during the countdown.

Hacking a car isn't for the faint-hearted. At several points the team worried it might have come close to permanently damaging the two identical-make cars it experimented with, but that never happened, Kohno said. "You really don't want software to accidentally change critical parts of the transmission," he said.

Robert McMillan can be reached at Alamat e-mail ini diproteksi dari spambot, silahkan aktifkan Javascript untuk melihatnya . He is on Twitter at:


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3.25 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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