A New Wireless Hack Can Unlock 100 Million Volkswagens
by Andy Greenberg
Review by Charles Mohapel
WIRED.com, Bloomberg.com, Ars Technica.com News ISBN/ITEM#: CM160821UNLOCK
Date: 21 August 2016
Discovered by researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and from the University of Birmingham, U.K. and known as far back as February 2012 by the chip manufacturer and by Volkswagen since May 2013, up to 100 million automobiles manufactured by VVolkswagen since 1995 are vulnerable to a new wireless hack that affects ignition and keyless entry systems. The list of vulnerable brands is jaw-dropping and includes Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Honda, Ferrari, Porsche, and Maserati.
(Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
In 2013, when University of Birmingham computer scientist Flavio Garcia and a team of researchers were preparing to reveal a vulnerability that allowed them to start the ignition of millions of Volkswagen cars and drive them off without a key, they were hit with a lawsuit that delayed the publication of their research for two years. But that experience doesn't seem to have deterred Garcia and his colleagues from probing more of VW's flaws: Now, a year after that hack was finally publicized, Garcia and a new team of researchers are back with another paper that shows how Volkswagen left not only its ignition vulnerable but the keyless entry system that unlocks the vehicle's doors, too. And this time, they say, the flaw applies to practically every car Volkswagen has sold since 1995.
Later this week at the Usenix security conference in Austin, a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham and the German engineering firm Kasper & Oswald plan to reveal two distinct vulnerabilities they say affect the keyless entry systems of an estimated nearly 100 million cars. One of the attacks would allow resourceful thieves to wirelessly unlock practically every vehicle the Volkswagen group has sold for the last two decades, including makes like Audi and Skoda. The second attack affects millions more vehicles, including Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, and Peugeot.
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