In the past, researchers have been able to access a car via bluetooth. Now, they’ve gone a step farther and show how easy it is to mess with the speedometers, odometers, alarms and locks.
Speaking at the Breakpoint security conference in Melbourne, the researchers from automtive startups Automatic and Motiv Power Systems told how together with Chris Hoder of Microsoft the trio set off to discover how the digital bits flew around Controller Area Networks (CANs) embedded into many cars in use today.
With physical access to the cars the men were able to make vehicles appear to drive slower than actual speed, manipulate brakes, alarms and unlock doors. They could also increase a car’s odometer and with further research wind it back.
The capabilities of CAN hacking were vast. In August, researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek tapped into CANs to cut the brakes of a Ford Escape and caused the wheel of a Ford Focus to jerk out of the hands of a driver at high speed.
Other hobbyists have used CAN bus hacking to alter functions such as the fuel injection levels of cars with some creating legitimate car customisation businesses using their skills.
Criminals too have benefitted. Sumers said recent years a criminal gang sold a device they created to unlock doors for pricey Audis via a port that remarkably could be accessed from an exterior panel on the vehicle. A spate of car thefts resulted until their arrest.