Basic System

    As our cars become more technologically advanced, they leave the door open for vulnerabilities. Latest in the technological flawbook appears to be tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), revealing just how small that hole needs to be in order for a tech savvy thief to crawl through.

    A group of researchers from Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina discovered that you can hack into a car's electronics wirelessly though tire systems, which means any modern vehicle could be vulnerable to an attack at any time, even while it's being driven down the road.

    In their study, researchers used a car's tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) as their entry portal. Tire pressure monitoring has been mandatory on new cars since 2008 and uses a sensor on each wheel that transmits data over radio frequencies to a vehicle's electronic control unit.

    By sniffing for signals from the TPMS, these researchers were able to track two different vehicles and even interfere with the signals. At this point, the real world implications are limited because TPMS sensors have a very short range and update the car's ECU only every 60-90 seconds. However, these findings underscore how as vehicles get more wireless connectivity, it's important to ensure those wireless connections are secure and encrypted to prevent mischief.

    Over the last few years, other vulnerabilities have been found in vehicles. While most of these aren't cause for concern today, they nevertheless point out that that technological advancement comes with compromises.

    - Geo-location: Cars with onboard navigation systems are in a never-ending conversation with the sky above. Acting as a unique signal with a series of satellites, your vehicle essentially has its own "mailing address." Locating that address by compromising the satellite network could reveal your location to someone who wanted to find out where you were traveling. What's at stake: your location.

    - "Home button" robberies: Related to navigation systems, there have been reports that thieves target vehicles with navigation systems and garage door openers visible. The thinking is that if a thief can get access to your navigation system, he can press the home button (which most drivers program to their real home address) and then use the garage door opener to get inside. What's at stake: Your car and potentially your home.

    - Physical Access to the car's brain: In an earlier report, our Craig Howie reported on the dangers of allowing someone access to the OBD-II port of a vehicle, which is the access point for the car's brain. "Someone -- such as a mechanic, a valet, a person who rents a car, an ex-friend, a disgruntled family member, or the car owner -- can, with even momentary access to the vehicle, insert a malicious component into a car’s internal network via the ubiquitous OBD-II port (typically under the dash). The attacker may leave the malicious component permanently attached to the car’s internal network or, as we show in this paper, they may use a brief period of connectivity to embed the malware within the car’s existing components and then disconnect." What's at stake: A lot. Access to the all the vehicle systems can be found here, which means everything from accelerator to brakes.

    - "GPS Jammers" Allow Thieves A Getaway: The super technologically advanced thief is looking a few steps ahead. Knowing that many cars come with GPS systems, onboard tracking systems such as OnStar and other theft devices, there have been reports that thieves are buying GPS jammers from China. These systems essentially block the car's own GPS signal, preventing the law from locating the car. What's at stake: the safe return of your car.

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    1 - 20 of 94 Comments
    DevAutos Sep 15, 2010 9:28 AM
    Remarkable display of anger in these comments! Racism,hatred.....you name ******** here! Then we transfer this to the highway....no wonder we have the horrible wrecks that we see everyday!!
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    luvcedarpoint Sep 15, 2010 9:22 AM
    I guess we can thank Ford and Goodyear for the fact that now all cars HAVE to have a low pressure warning. Holy crap, really? I cant believe they feel people are too stupid to check their air pressure. Whats next a "your car is dirty-*******" light?? I had an '09 Tacoma that I bought new alloy wheels for. They looked sharp but the pressure gauges wouldnt fit in them (which btw is so my luck) so I took a piece of electrical tape and covered over the stupid light. Problem solved. And sold the gauges for $100 on EBay.
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    cvdunbar Aug 20, 2010 2:04 PM
    smendenhall23, oh man, you didnt have to go with the old ass thing. What is your culture? you wish you know what I know and maybe someday you will. Your for sure very young and simple minded. If what i posted was a whine your very simple or maybe you fear me. I will step into your simple world and call you as I read you, punk with no ass. You could not stand next to me or match how smart i am, you fear guys like me, why? we teach you young guys, i bet your a rice burner builder, not bashing rice cars. How many pro stocks have you built, how many blowers have you set up, how many top fuel clutches have you set up? see where im going with this? feel the fear yet little man? i learned most if not all from my elders and respected them even if I thought they may be wrong but you young guns, not all of you, but a few such as yourself will self emplode into a pile of s$%t in short time because you THINK you can reinvent the wheel, your very short term in the way you think. It could be the people you hang with or maybe where you live but wake up and learn from everyone who has something to offer, young or old. just grow up and be a real man. Women look for that in a man and you have some ways to go, but you will get there, im sure, your not a dumb person you just dont take time to think.
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    cvdunbar Aug 20, 2010 1:45 PM
    Hey SMENDENHALL23, take it easy, hope i didnt hit a nerve. I dont know how long you have been a tech. I started back in 1975 and still going. I speak as I see the truth, most of theses so called master techs I deal with in my shop only have book smarts to say the least, most of them have no idea of theroy of operation. You may or may not fit that profile ************* I may have hit a sore spot with you.You and I dont know it all and I for sure never ever would tell anyone I do know it all but I sure know a few things as you may also. I do not compete with anyone who wants to claim because they take a ASE test and passed it that there the answer man, thats stupid. I see so many techs today that hang there hat on how many test they take and pass our how many patches they can stitch to there shop coat, a clean coat at that. I can toss this out, I have all my ASE'S more than once only becuase some dumb ass young service manager could not tell whos a real tech from a dumb ass wanta be. Thsi way if he hires a ASE super tech and they suck he can always go back to the gen. manager and say, well he had his AES'S how was I to know, im sure you can see my point. The sharp as a balling ball thing, well that kind of tells me maybe you have little man problems or maybe your a tech who dies for taking test and getting a thata boya from those around you, sorry if i read into what you said to much and im not picking on you. Have you had the chance to rebuild v-6 and or v-8 engines? how about how many trans rebuild have you done, i wont ask how many rears you have set up because todays diffs are easy. But i would like to know more about your back ground, maybe we can swap stories and have some fun. No hard felling buddy just techs being techs. Have a good one and keep on being a good tech.
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    sandovalnational Aug 19, 2010 3:56 PM
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    pebblesann38 Aug 18, 2010 10:59 AM
    This is no flaw! The government had this programmed into cars so that they can stop them electronically from a distance. I know I helped develop the programming. It only took 39 additional lines of code.
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    amakurat Aug 16, 2010 11:37 PM
    Why don't we just tell all the wannabe thieves how to do everything so they don't have to even think about it!!!
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    smendenhall23 Aug 16, 2010 8:47 PM
    hey cvdunbar you were electronic trained?by who?whiner is us .shut your old ass mouth dumbass.stay at home where you still cant fix *****.
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    smendenhall23 Aug 16, 2010 8:43 PM
    hey cvdunbar your as sharp as a bowling ball.tech2 isnt supposed to fix ******** up to the savy tech to diagnose.i have been using the tech2 for 16 years now its the best piece of diag equipment that has been made.its also going to the wayside.everybodies car 2000 and up has more wireless than you think.most of the security componants have rolling codes which most thieves cant touch.someone with a lot of time might figure some things out,doubtful.most people this intelligent are not stealing cars.no need to worry just propaganda to stir up bs.
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    jmwha Aug 16, 2010 8:35 PM
    I owed a 1968 Pontiac GTO pushing 400 hp+ when I was kid and it would out perform anything on the road today, with the exception of some very high priced super performing freaks, and it did it all without all of this high tech crap. It cost alot less to maintain and I could do a complete overhaul in 3-4 days in my garage. Now days it would take me that long to figure out how to change my oil. I would take that GTO back in a heartbeat.
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    june9122 Aug 16, 2010 6:45 PM
    i agree, lets tell everyone how to do it, even though as little angel said it is avaiolable on youtube., we need to report this.
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    cvdunbar Aug 16, 2010 4:11 PM
    being a tech for 30 years and being electronic trained on the theory of operation of theses systems its a lame scare to say the least. You can down load new specs or programs to ecu.pcm,tcu, bcm, ipc, if you have the programs to do so, many of or all of these important down loads to fuel injection, throttle postion, spark timimg, and events are not that easy for anyone to just plug into the ALDL adns create there own hell per say. You can by programs on the market to change the curve to many events for performance and use your lab top to do so. Most of ecu, pcms ect talk CAN, DATA LINES. they do not use "air waves" so a person would have to create there own prrogram and get to your car do do any changes. So to say and not that the strory noted this but for anyone to control your throttle remote is not going to happen. All of engines controls are based off of voltage, grounds sensors that are wired and not air wave control so again this story can lead a person to a nerves break down. As for tire psi systems? well thats done radoi waves and what can anyone realyydo with that system to cause any harm. You could drive over a giant magnic and screw up a system such as ********* all hoop la to say the least but as time goes on it wont be long before software will be controled in some way via remote, maybe the govement will mandate such software in our cars, why not they want to montior everything else we own, they like to have that control at there finger tips when ever they feel the need to " save us from ourselves" so dont worry ,if you think you tech is hooking into your car to "play with you" dont worry, most micro super ASE master techs of today really dont have a clue as to how to even read and or understand hand helds such as the TECH-2 , there just trying to make hours to feed there kids, so there concern is to sell you things and or service work you really dont need like flushes.
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    scout943 Aug 16, 2010 3:55 PM
    Todays cars have way too much electronic junk! WHO NEEDS IT??
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    jmedlm Aug 16, 2010 3:52 PM
    Seems 'new technology' needs a new name. All this 'new technology' enveloping the world is really a way for the 'elite' underground to CONTROL EVERYTHING. There are eyes on you wherever you go, and now through this 'new technology' your every movement can be tracked. Add to that the ability to literally cause an 'accident' --- Unbelievable ! This truly is a nightmare yet to reveal it's full potential.
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    suzque3211 Aug 16, 2010 3:23 PM
    dear flbmb. you r so right after watching fox. it has become a SCARE TACTIC!!!!!!!
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    surfclubmgmt Aug 16, 2010 3:18 PM
    So, you believe ignorance is bliss? Grow up.
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    llittleangel Aug 16, 2010 2:56 PM
    The media are so stupid. It's bad enough that people can go on youtube to find how to do anything, but to openly show or tell people how to be a criminal is beyond me. I think we should REPORT this article don't you?
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    flbmb1 Aug 16, 2010 2:34 PM
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    tennwilliams Aug 16, 2010 2:18 PM
    I programmed my "home" button to take you to Denny's.
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    connachtmacdein Aug 16, 2010 1:54 PM
    I just love paranoia, dont you?
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    1 - 20 of 94 Comments
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    A group of researchers from Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina have just discovered that you can hack into a car's electronics wirelessly.


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