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Six Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked!

Six Ways Your Car Can Be Hacked!
by Daniel Nenni on 11-25-2015 at 7:00 am

 The question is not IF but WHEN your car will be hacked. How about this: You connect your smartphone to your car and malware sets off the airbags. My car has front, side, and rear airbags so that would be a very painful and expensive experience for sure. According to my mechanic this is certainly possible and it would cost more than $10,000 to replace all of the airbags. And who would pay for this expense? Not the car manufacturer, not your car insurance, not your smartphone provider, etc… You would get stuck with that bill, absolutely.

Or maybe your car will be held hostage. According to the FBI, between April 2014 and June 2015, there were 992 “ransomeware” related complaints, with victims reporting losses totaling more than $18 million.

As I have mentioned before, security was the overwhelming theme at ARM TechCon and “Connected Car Security” was the first presentation on my agenda. According to Rob Valiton, SVP & GM Automotive, Secure Products Group and Memory Business Units @ Atmel Corporation, cars are exposed to many potential attacks through an increasing number of interfaces including:


  • Telematics ECU: E.g. OnStar, Uconnect, iDrive, …
  • WiFi Hotspot
  • Bluetooth
  • Passive Entry / Keyless Systems
  • Onboard Diagnostic Port
  • Traditional In-Vehicle Networks (e.g. CAN2.0, LIN)

    Rob showed this video clip for extra effect:

    Did you read about the Jeep Cherokee hack? Hackers wrote some code (zero-day exploit) that can give them wireless control via the internet through the Jeep’s entertainment system. So yes, hackers can control your car from anywhere in the world and make it do pretty much whatever they want. They also hacked a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius. Lucky for us these hackers were funded by DARPA so the car manufacturers were alerted prior to the publishing of these stories and software patches could be made. Next time we may not be so lucky. These gentlemen hackers now work for Uber’s Advanced Technology Center so this was probably more of a job interview than a regular hack.

    One of the reasons why I switched to the iPhone is security. When we did a SemiWiki app we submitted it to both the Apple and Google sites. The Android app was approved immediately while the iOS app took several days (better QA?). Another reason is that Apple controls both the silicon and software so security is less daunting (I would hope). Unfortunately, I was told that hackers are now targeting iOS devices for the fame of it (job interviews), so NO ONE is safe! Especially my beautiful wife who has dozens of apps on her phone that she rarely uses but I digress…

    There are also reports of car key fob hacks. Similar to what has been done with garage door openers, a hacker can use a $32 device to intercept and store keyless entry codes for modern cars and trucks as well as garage doors and alarm systems. The device is called RollJam and was presented at the last DefCon in Las Vegas. Here is a link to the full slide deck in case you are interested.

    You can get a look at Atmel Automotive Solutions HERE.

    Don’t forget to follow SemiWiki on LinkedIn HERE…Thank you for your support!

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