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Car Hacking: NXP Pushes Flexible Security
7/11/2013

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Secure element in ECU architecture
Source: NXP
Source: NXP

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junko.yoshida
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Need for automotive security
junko.yoshida   7/11/2013 3:14:01 PM
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I know some of you have found my previous story "How Hackers Can Take Control of Your Car" (http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1318838&) somewhat an alarmist's view.

Perhaps.

But I'd like to submit to you that there is real-world engineering/development work going on around automotive security.

Hackers may not find their way into the car you have now; but they will eventually -- if your next car is not prepared.

I am talking to a number of experts as I write this. I will be sharing their views in this series. 

krisi
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threat
krisi   7/11/2013 6:48:35 PM
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Looking forward to these security enhacements...the risk has to be put in context, someone can just drive into you creating more damage than any hackers could

junko.yoshida
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Re: threat
junko.yoshida   7/11/2013 6:50:53 PM
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True. There is always that trade-off between reliability and security.

patrick.mannion
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Securing MCUs
patrick.mannion   7/11/2013 9:36:12 PM
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I came across an interesting company recently that may offer a solution - albeit a bit extreme - for securing that automotive IC supply chain, Junko, particular in the context of the MCU.

I was talking with Olek Cymbalski, owner of OPC Technologies (www.opct.com). He described their service which secures the supply chain by taking in the MCUs to be used in a particular design, programming them here in the US using the required code, removing the ability to recode (securing them) then shipping them to the production line -- anywhere in the world. This, according to Cymbalski, takes the programming details out of the engineers hands, while at the same time ensuring the ICs aren't tampered with along the way from the MCU manufacturer to the production line.

A bit extreme, but I'm sure Olek can comment more on it.

Don't you miss the days when automobile security meant buying The Club? Can you believe they still sell the original on Amazon? http://www.amazon.com/Original-Club-Steering-Wheel-Lock/dp/B0000CBILL

Only $39.99 - but wait, there's more!!:)

daleste
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Hard to believe it is an issue
daleste   7/11/2013 10:39:29 PM
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There aren't many ways someone could connect to your car... actually, none.  The only way to hack your car is if you do it yourself or have someone do it for you since you would have to physically modify it.  It looks like the real issue here is that the car companies don't want you to be able to make modifications to your car.  Reminds me of when I was waiting for some friends after work at a brew pub in Austin in 1999.  It was crowded and some women offered to share their table with me.  One of them was explaining that she quit her job and started a company to fix the year 2000 issue with cars.  She was convinced that cars would stop working on 1/1/2000.  She said it was the microcontrollers.  I was a design manager for microcontrollers in the automotive division at the time.  I told her that there was only one microcontoller in the car that knew what time it was and it didn't know if it was am or pm much less what year it was.  She wouldn't listen to me so I moved to another table.  I wonder how her company did.

boblespam
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Re: Need for automotive security
boblespam   7/12/2013 2:54:21 AM
Hi Junko,

I've read the Savage report you mentioned with a lot of interest as it's my job to design such electronics. I designed one of the first MP3 player for car radio in Europe (OEM and aftersale). I can tell you the type of attack (MP3 buffer overvlow)  mentioned in the report is just impossible in that case as the MP3 decoder was hardware. I guess it's possible to do a buffer overflow with a software MP3 decoder but I seriously doubt that it could be used to hack the car itself (maybe the car radio alone, even that would be quite time consuming for poor impact). Was there a real demo of what they could do on an unmodified car with this type of attack ?

What makes me think it's impossible to hack a car from the car radio is: The only network beetween the car radio and the rest of the car controllers is the CAN bus, often through gateways (the body network is physically independent of the engine network). CAN reliability is based on hardware message filtering, this way a controller cannot be overflown by a CAN bus. It's part of the validation process of all good designed controllers to check that it cannot crash because of a CAN bus overflow, not be cause of the fear of hacker's attack but more because of the fact that a controller could go crazy on the bus and overflow it (This kind of bug already happened if real life).

Today I design engine and body controllers for different car manufacturers, we do have security schemes in the bootloaders since about 10 years or more. It's mostly based on encrypted keys to allow calibration changes (it's easy to do a BO attack with a calibration change) and updated software download. There are also CRC checks and stuff like that (not talking about key(less) authentification). I know some people could go around these, mostly because of the weakest link: the garages. We need to have the possibility to update the software for the most important controllers of the car, it's a requirement of the car makers. These updates are done in the car repair stations of the brand and these will always remain the weakest link.

The solution to make the controller chip non reprogrammable (mentioned by Patrick) is not applicable in that case. For the controllers that don't need reprogrammability, we just use OTP (One Time Programmable) microcontrollers wich are cheaper thant Flash µC and physically impossible to recode.

David.Proffer
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Rookie
Re: Need for automotive security
David.Proffer   7/12/2013 2:55:10 AM
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Junko, good for you and EETimes to surface these issues. I have to say, it is so scary to read the comments by some (I am assuming by the fact they are at the EETimes web site) knowledgeable and educated engineers on this article and your other one:

http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1318838&

 

The ones I refer to are those that are in total denial that cars being developed today are hackable and/or make the arguments that that if the car is hackable, why go to the trouble, just run into it or cut the brake line....

Are none of these engineers aware or following the massive outcry about the security holes in our existing infrustructures? Have they not followed STUXNET ?

Very sad and scary! Shows how much education or quick retirement needs to be done NOW.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Hard to believe it is an issue
junko.yoshida   7/12/2013 7:47:47 AM
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ha ha. Your Austin bar story is pretty funny!

But here's the thing. I have been told that there are instances that users try to modify their own cars (or in the case of car sharing, shared cars) to change mileage, Some people also change engine parameters (say, manupilate it from 100 horse power to 120 horse power engine).

Such manipulation on engine parameterscan be done by software, according to my source. And such actions could directly affect reliability of a car, for example. 

junko.yoshida
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Re: Need for automotive security
junko.yoshida   7/12/2013 8:05:23 AM
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Thanks @boblespam for your detailed comments. Always great to hear from an engineer who actually does the work -- like you do.

I do understand the existance of two physically indpendent networks in a car, as you pointed out: the body network andf the engine network.

But they are connected through gateways. Is that correct?

Then, is there any possibility that the very gateway could be infected by malicious code?

Curious mind wants to know.

 

daleste
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CEO
Re: Hard to believe it is an issue
daleste   7/12/2013 8:08:10 AM
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Yes, that makes sense.  The automotive companies have always worried about their vehicles being modified.  They have made it harder for us to work on our own cars.  Making a modification should void the warranty, but they worry about the liability if something happens due to the modification.

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