Updates are coming for a telematics unit that hacked a Corvette

Mobile Devices Ingenierie says an update will require that security rules are applied to deployed dongles

This is the C4E family telematics control unit from the French company Mobile Devices used by researchers to turn on the windshield wipers and apply the brakes of a Corvette remotely.

This is the C4E family telematics control unit from the French company Mobile Devices used by researchers to turn on the windshield wipers and apply the brakes of a Corvette remotely.

Security updates are being distributed for a telematics control unit (TCU) that security researchers showed could be manipulated to remotely apply the brakes of a Corvette, according to the device's French manufacturer.

The device is a small dongle that plugs into the On-Board Diagnostics II (OBD-II) port on a vehicle, usually located under the driver's side dashboard. TCUs with cellular connections are increasingly being used in vehicles by insurance companies to monitor drivers or for fleet management.

At the USENIX security conference this week in Washington, D.C., academics from the University of California demonstrated how a C4E family dongle from Paris-based Mobile Devices Ingenierie could be remotely accessed.

TCU's collect data from a vehicle and have access to its CAN bus, which interfaces with a variety of sensors. The academics showed they could send a remote command by text message to the TCU and access the CAN bus.

For example, they turned on the Corvette's windshield wipers and applied its brakes while the car was traveling at a low speed, according to a video.

Aaron Solomon, CEO at Mobile Devices, said via email Wednesday that his company is identifying vulnerable deployed devices and is aiming to secure them with a new security pack within 10 days.

"We are currently identifying -- together with our customers -- all the deployments that were made without activating all the security mechanisms and making sure the security pack gets applied to all vehicles that are concerned," he wrote.

Part of the issue with Mobile Devices' TCUs lies in how the devices are distributed. Solomon wrote his company's TCUs are sold to integrators in a state that allows those companies to have maximum flexibility to develop their own applications.

The TCUs have a production mode, which if activated, provides stronger security, Solomon wrote. But it's up to integrators to decide when and how to activate that mode.

Mobile Devices is also changing its approach to how it handles security on its end. It has come up with a new set of rules that will automatically activate the security package when devices are deployed.

"The purpose of these rules is that there can't be any deployment without all the security features activated," he wrote.

The Corvette used by the researchers didn't have any vulnerabilities itself, and the attack just focused on the Mobile Devices' TCU. But car manufacturers also install their own cellular-connected telematics units, which have also been proved vulnerable.

At the Black Hat security conference last week, researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek showed how a Jeep Cherokee's brakes could be applied by exploiting security weaknesses in UConnect, a telematics unit used for entertainment, navigation and other controls. Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles as a result of the findings.

The flurry of car-hacking research has also prompted U.S. lawmakers to call for legislation that ensures vehicles are better protected from attacks.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Mobile Devices Ingenieriesecurity

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?