INSIGHTS | July 24, 2013

DefCon 21 Preview

Hi Internet!
You may have heard that Charlie Miller (@0xcharlie) and I (@nudehaberdasher) will present a car hacking presentation at DefCon 21 on Friday, August 2 at 10:00am.
“Adventures in Automotive Networks and Control Units” (Track 3)

I wanted to put up a blog explaining what exactly we’ll be talking about in a bit more detail than was provided in the abstract. Our abstract was purposefully vague because we weren’t really sure what we were going to release at the time of submission, but obviously have a much more concrete set of items now.

Also we wanted to remind everyone that although we did not focus on remote attack vectors, intricate knowledge of a car’s internals / CAN network would be necessary after remotely compromising the vehicle for any amount of control (steering, braking, acceleration, etc).

Talking points
  1.  We will briefly discuss the ISO / Protocol standards that our two automobiles used to communicate on the CAN bus, also providing a Python and C API that can be used to replicate our work. The API is pretty generic so it can easily be modified to work with other makes / models.
  2.  The first type of CAN traffic we’ll discuss is diagnostic CAN messages. These types of message are usually used by mechanics to diagnose problems within the automotive network, sensors, and actuators. Although meant for maintenance, we’ll show how some of these messages can be used to physically control the automobile under certain conditions.
  3.  The second type of CAN data we’ll talk about is normal CAN traffic that the car regularly produces. These types of CAN messages are much more abundant but more difficult to reverse engineer and categorize (i.e. proprietary messages). Although time consuming, we’ll show how these messages, when played on the CAN network, have control over the most safety critical features of the automobile.
  4.  Finally we’ll talk about modifying the firmware and using the proprietary re-flashing processes used for each of our vehicles. Firmware modification is most likely necessary for any sort of persistence when attempting to permanently modify an automobile’s behavior. It will also show just how different this process is for each make/model, proving that ‘just ask the tuning community’ is not a viable option a majority of the time.
So there you have it. While we are NOT covering any remote attack vectors/exploits, we will be releasing documentation, code, tools, sample traffic from each vehicle, and more. At the very least you will be able to recreate our results, and with a little work should be able to start hacking your own car!
Make sure you come by DefCon Friday morning at 10am to see our talk. We promise that it will be worth getting up that early (or staying up through the night). Also, please keep checking back as we’ll post our paper, slides, code, and videos after DefCon.


P.S. If you’re lucky, you too can completely brick your car!