As a blog follow up to the Black Hat 2014 Conference in Las Vegas, I had promised to cover the presentation where researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek had named the most hackable cars in 2014. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have been the forerunners in testing vehicles’ electronic control systems. I had also attended their last year’s presentation at the 2013 DEFCON where Chris Valasek had demonstrated how to remotely hack a 2008 Toyota Prius by translating and reading the vehicles Controller Area Network (CAN) system.
There are three primary methodologies in hacking a vehicle’s control systems. The most popular ways are through the vehicles Bluetooth, telematics and on-board phone application systems. However, it is through the vehicles CAN system that is the most susceptible to damage because of its power of controlling the vehicles driver control system such as brakes, steering and accelerator. The CAN system is proprietary and each vehicle brand has their protocols that are able to control the vehicle. The CAN system is much like how Transfer Control Protocol (TCP) operates on any given network infrastructure. Charlie and Chris brought automotive control systems security into the mainstream. Unfortunately, the security research that has been completed so far has only been completed on three to four popular vehicle brands.
The most hackable vehicles that were presented at the Black Hat 2014 Conference are as follows: the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the 2015 Cadillac Escalade and the 2014 Toyota Prius. Of course, it really would not be a presentation if you do not list the most secure vehicles. The most secure vehicles are as follows: the new Dodge Viper, the new Audi A8, and the 2014 Honda Accord. Today, all of the new vehicles have the CAN Network system which provides hackers an opportunity to gain access to critical systems such as brakes and steering. Therefore, as a vehicle becomes more connected such as in the new concept of “Internet of Things,” the vehicle becomes a huge moving mobile smart car device.
The researchers, in light of the vulnerabilities of these vehicles, have developed a type of anti-hacking device for vehicles that is able to thwart a hacker from controlling the vehicles critical CAN system. In other words, you will shortly be able to purchase not only an anti-theft system but now auto-dealers in the future will be offering you anti-hacking systems along with the new vehicle package. As if cars are not expensive enough!?